Joseph Boven at The Colorado Independent wrote today about the Republican Party's annual effort to get taxpayer dollars into the hands of private schools.
The Quality Education and Budget Reduction Act would give tax credits to parents who take their kids out of public schools and either enroll them in private schools or home-school them. According to Rep. Spencer Swalm, one of the bill's sponsors, the benefits from the program would be two-fold: It would increase competition in education and decrease the fiscal burden on the state from the public school system.
Last year the Legislative Council’s fiscal report of the same bill found that 7,700 students would likely leave the public education system each year to go into a private or home-schooled education if the tax credit was enacted. According to the report, had the bill passed, the state could have saved $56 million in fiscal year 2010-2011 and $98.9 million in 2011-2012.
$98.9 million! What a savings. Of course, not all costs are per-pupil based, as the article points out, such as food programs and programs for special-needs students. And while Swalm might say that his bill wouldn't target public schools or teachers, opponents of the vouchers argue that this a zero-sum game.
School districts would lose per pupil funding tied to student registration when students failed to enroll. Currently that funding averages $6,822 though it is likely to see cuts this year as in years previous. The report noted the school districts would see a loss of student enrollment and, as a result, a reduction in full time employees.
As Colorado Education Association's Jeanne Beyer tells The Colorado Independent, "[The bill is] just exactly like a voucher except that they would give a citizen a tax credit on their income tax. We are basically opposed to spending tax dollars on private schools, private or religious. We have nothing against private schools, nothing against religious schools, nothing against home schooling. We just don’t think that we should be spending tax money on them.”