NY nonprofit head cautions against rush to voucher expansion

Dive Brief:

  • Lynette Guastaferro, executive director of New York nonprofit Teaching Matters Inc., writes for The Hechinger Report that a rushed and haphazard voucher program could have ruinous consequences in a city that created alternatives to traditional public schools in a thoughtful and deliberate way.
  • In New York City, Guastaferro writes, the charter sector has evolved based on an emphasis on good options rather than just more choice — and even there, charters do not necessarily get better results than other district schools, though some do.
  • While President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have supported the idea of a massive federal voucher program, Guastaferro says accountability will be key for any schools that get public funds, and she strongly opposes repurposing Title I money for the vouchers.

Dive Insight:

Because of the scale of the Trump voucher plan, for which the president has released precious few details, Title I is an obvious target. Right now the federal government distributes about $14 billion through Title I to schools across the country to overcome challenges presented by poverty. Should this pot of money provide the base for a new program, urban schools in direct competition with charters would not be the only ones to lose out.

This is perhaps one reason why a federal voucher program could not get a majority of its funding from Title I. Rural schools, many of which struggle with high concentrations of poverty just like urban schools do, would stand to lose a lot of money. And families wouldn’t see the benefit of it in the form of vouchers where alternative schools simply aren’t an option because of distance.

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Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation