Idaho, Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia. What do the latter red and purple states have in common? All but one of them are governed by very conservative Republican governors. All but two voted for Trump by solid margins in 2020, and all of them have Republican majorities in at least one of their legislative chambers. In 2023, the five states were also a major testing ground where well-funded and powerful interest groups sought to expand existing school voucher programs. In each case, legislators rejected voucher expansion proposals, often by wide margins.
“Private schools are under no compulsion to educate all students, or to educate students well,” says Dr. Stephen Owens, education director for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a public policy research and analysis nonprofit. “Private schools can and do discriminate based on income, ability, sexual orientation, religion—and that is not a good use of public dollars.”
“We have seen reports in other states…that when you create a universal voucher, what happens is that anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the vouchers goes to people already in private school…it becomes a tax cut for the rich,” Owens adds.