Progressive vouchers are the best way to maximize the public education funds available to any child

Mark Loewe, Ph. D. Physics, B. S. Physics, B. S. Chemistry, 29 October 2003

Progressive vouchers are structured so that all children benefit from a percentage, for example, 25 percent, of whatever private funds voucher schools are able to attract into our education system.  Within each school district, the percentage may be adjusted to (nearly) maximize the public education funds available to any child.  All children are equally eligible for the vouchers, except that higher voucher amounts are allowed for children who have handicaps.

Progressive vouchers start by providing less public education funds per child to voucher schools than to government schools because government schools operate under stricter regulations than voucher schools and every child (with few exceptions) must be allowed to attend at least one government school.  Voucher schools may, for example, receive 1/4-th less public education funds per child than government schools or, equivalently, government schools may receive 1/3-rd more per child than voucher schools.  For each child who attends a voucher school instead of a government school, the public education funds that are saved result in a slight increase in the public education funds that are available to all other children who attend government schools or voucher schools.

For handicapped children, government schools currently receive more public education funds per child according to funding weights that depend on the handicaps and instructional arrangements.  As an incentive for voucher schools to specialize in serving blind or other special needs children (who may be poorly served by government schools or institutions), progressive vouchers are simply multiplied by the same funding weights.  For each handicapped child who attends a voucher school instead of a government school, the savings and benefits to all other children are, therefore, also multiplied by the same funding weights.

Voucher schools are allowed to charge tuition in excess of the vouchers because (as explained in the 25 December 2000 article below) prohibiting such tuition would greatly reduce the ability of voucher schools to attract private funds into our education system.

Now, for the progressive provision.

So that all children benefit from a percentage of whatever private funds are attracted by a voucher school, progressive vouchers simply reduce the public education funds that the voucher school receives by 25 percent of whatever private funds the voucher school receives.  This saves 25 dollars of public education funds for every 100 dollars of private funds attracted by the voucher school.  These savings result in an increase in the public education funds that are available to all children who attend government schools or other voucher schools.  Government schools receive more public education funds per child and voucher schools that are not fortunate enough to attract private funds receive larger vouchers.

This progressive provision is not a tax, because it does not require any voucher school (or any private school that is ineligible to receive vouchers) to send money to the government.  It is simply a benefits reduction for those voucher schools that are fortunate enough to attract private funds.  It is also much simpler to implement than a progressive provision based on the wealths of individual children or their families.

Vouchers are not large entitlements for schools and are not directed to schools by the government.  Vouchers are small entitlements for individual children and, within each school district, thousands of parents make thousands of decisions about which voucher schools, if any, receive the vouchers.