Pros and Cons of Private School Vouchers

School Voucher programs have been quietly dominating the United States. I'm going to break down the pros and cons for you so you can form your own opinion.

Pros and Cons of Private School Vouchers
Photo by Mike Fox / Unsplash
"Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom" Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

School Voucher programs have been quietly dominating the United States. Currently, almost half the states have a strong school voucher program that provides a substantial amount of money to families. There are several more that provide a small tax credit or refund.

As I researched for this newsletter, I found they are incredibly polarizing. But what are they? I'm going to break down the pros and cons for you so you can form your own opinion.


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Ok, but what's a voucher? School vouchers are programs created by individual states for parents to seek out alternatives to public/charter schools. Public and charter schools are funded by state/federal tax money. Private schools and homeschool are not. Voucher programs essentially divert your child's "per pupil" funding to your chosen private school (or homeschool) instead of sending it to fund public schools.

Please note that this is unique to each state- some vouchers are worth thousands of dollars, while others may provide a $500 tax credit. North Carolina, for example, gives vouchers based on family income. The projected average voucher for this school year is $2,769.


  • Many proponents argue that tax money is being wasted if you do not send your child to their local pubic school. They would rather see the money benefit their child directly.
  • The second most common argument is that this makes access to private schools and homeschooling more equitable. Schools are incredibly expensive to run and scholarships (especially full scholarships) are competitive. Providing families school vouchers can make alternative schooling accessible in some cases.
  • It creates more options. Many families do not have a choice of where their child goes to school. They simply enroll in the neighborhood school. However some schools may be dangerous, lack desired courses, or have poor test scores. Vouchers provide families with a chance to make a choice they want. In most states this includes religious education.
  • Many states have an additional program to support students with special needs. This would potentially mean extra funds to cover the cost of special education, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy. If a child is eligible for services, they will receive support during school hours for free. Private schools, however, are not required to provide these services.


  • Private schools, homeschooling, and support for special needs are r eally expensive. Parents will get only a few thousand dollars, but private schools easily cost $10-20k per student annually. Critics argue that it doesn't truly give low-income families a chance to enroll in private school.
  • In practice, they do not support low income families. Indiana has one of the most robust voucher programs in the nation. They have found most families using vouchers are middle class and less than 1% were students leaving "failing" schools. Schools have experienced a drain on diversity as middle and upper class families flocked to private schools taking their tax money with them. Schools are underfunded and struggling. The former superintendent, Wendy Robinson, called it an "assault on public schools."
  • I put religious schools in the pros and cons intentionally since it is so personal. One survey found that the majority of parents used their vouchers for a religious school. Some may see this as religious freedom while others may see it as secular tax money funding religious organizations.

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Til next week,