NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New School Voucher Plan Would be Largest Ever

May 6, 2003

Low-income students in Washington, D.C., could get as much as $11,000 apiece in private-school tuition under a plan proposed by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). The D.C. plan dwarfs other tax-supported vouchers available to students elsewhere.

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, a Democrat, last week spoke out for the first time in support of voucher. Observers say this is a dramatic change in course and an indication that the city is willing to try the experiment for some of its 67,000 students.

Under the plan:

  • Vouchers would be available to students whose families earn less than $52,000 for a family of four.
  • Vouchers would be limited by private-school tuition, so that if a student attended a Catholic school that costs $4,000 a year, he or she would get only $4,000.
  • A student attending a prep school costing $20,000 would still get only $11,000.

Legislative analysts say the D.C. program next year could sustain up to 2,000 students receiving vouchers of about $3,000 to $4,000, roughly the tuition at many religious schools. It would be built around a lottery, meaning that if many students used the full voucher, fewer students could take part.

The D.C. proposal would still be out of reach for most of the city's 67,000 students, says Marc Egan of the National School Boards Association. Local private schools have only about 1,200 slots available, he says.

Source: Greg Toppo, "D.C. voucher plan would far exceed others in USA," USA Today, May 6, 2003.

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