Roundup: Voucher Developments Across the United States 

Thanks to Texas AFT member activism, taxpayer-funded private school vouchers did not pass in Texas, despite a push by Gov. Greg Abbott and monied special interest groups across five separate legislative sessions.  

While Texas avoided the voucher scam last year, Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana are in various stages of their own voucher fights. All these states show us what we know: school vouchers do not work. As outlined by the Department of Education, school voucher programs primarily benefit families already enrolled in private schools, signaling a departure from its initial goal of aiding low-income families.  


Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed reforms to the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account universal school voucher program, prompting a deeper look at its impact. The program, available to all Arizona families since 2022, allows voucher participants to access 90% of the state funding their home district would have received. However, data analysis reveals a concerning, if predictable, trend: voucher usage is higher in affluent, “high-performing” districts. As Jennifer Jennings, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, writes, “Arizona’s school vouchers are subsidizing its most fortunate families, reinforcing existing disparities rather than mitigating them.” Read more in the Arizona Mirror 


A recent poll reveals that nearly two-thirds of Georgia voters oppose using public money to fund private schools, in other words, a school voucher program. Vouchers are an expected topic for the Georgia General Assembly this year after cajoling from Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, even after a voucher proposal failed to pass both legislative chambers this past spring. Read more in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  


Justin Jones, one of the “Tennessee Three” politicians expelled for participating in a gun violence protest last year, revealed this week that he has been removed from a state House committee by Speaker Cameron Sexton. Jones, along with other Tennesse legislators, faced expulsion last year for joining a gun control protest after a deadly shooting. Although reinstated after public outcry, Jones now claims his removal from an education committee is an attempt to “stifle dissent” on the state’s proposed school voucher program.  Read more in Newsweek 


The expansion of Indiana’s voucher program, as revealed by data from the Indiana Department of Education, is revealing something we already know: the families benefiting the most from the program are those who are already sending their children to private schools. The number of Indiana students using a voucher increased by over 30% last year, while enrollment in private schools only grew by 5.3%. This suggests that around 12,000 new voucher recipients were likely already attending private schools without state funding. Read more on the In School Matters blog, produced by former Bloomington Herald-Times education reporters.