NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

As School Choice Advances, Churches Prepare To Educate

April 30, 2002

Anticipating a favorable Supreme Court ruling this spring on the Cleveland school voucher program, inner-city Christian churches across the nation are quietly opening their own schools and making preparations for an expected flood of neighborhood children who soon may have government vouchers to pay for their special brand of private education.

  • Ten states and Puerto Rico already have programs that help families pay private school costs.
  • Milwaukee, Cleveland and the entire state of Florida now give vouchers to low-income families to send their children to the private school of their choice.
  • Fifteen more states may follow suit with tax or voucher programs.
  • And President Bush is pushing federal legislation to put in motion a refundable tax credit that would provide as much as $2,500 a year in private school tuition to parents who have children in schools where most students are not up to grade level.

Private schools in the U.S. now educate about five million children, and about 84 percent of the schools have some religious affiliation. About 49.5 percent of the schools are run by Catholic churches -- in which tuition at the elementary level averages about $1,787. Schools affiliated with other religions educate 34.8 percent of private school attendees. And non-sectarian private schools take in 15.7 percent of this group -- charging an average tuition of about $10,000 per pupil.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Churches Heed a Calling to Educate Poor Children," USA Today, April 30, 2002.


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