NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Colorado Becomes First State to Adopt Vouchers Since Supreme Court Decision

April 3, 2003

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision last fall to allow states to use taxpayer funds to send children to private or parochial schools, Colorado has become the first state to adopt a bill creating a school voucher program. Though the vouchers will pay tuition for mo more than 3 percent of Colorado's 736,000 public school students, supporters say the symbolic victory is enormous.

Under the plan:

  • Eleven of the state's largest districts would have to offer vouchers this fall to low-income students.
  • It's up to families whether to apply, and private and parochial schools don't have to participate.

The Colorado Education Association, which represents 36,000 teachers, says school districts stand to lose up to $193 million in state funding, or about 2.4 percent over the next four years if all eligible students participate.

In response, state Rep. Nancy Spence (R), the bill's sponsor, says her measure pays schools to let struggling kids go, giving districts as much as 25 percent of each voucher student's state allotment. In a district like Denver, that's worth about $1,550 a student.

"Essentially, the districts are making a profit on students they don't educate," she says.

Source: Greg Toppo, "Vouchers Gain an Early Foothold," USA Today, April 2, 2003.


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