There is no public clamor for vouchers or tuition tax credit programs, corporate or otherwise. A 2003 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll shows that Americans do not support voucher schemes and prefer, instead to see stronger investments in public schools. Specifically, in 2003, 60 percent of respondents were opposed to allowing students and parents to choose private schooling at the public expense. Even after the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris—which says that the U.S. constitution does not prevent a state from offering private and religious school vouchers at the public’s expense under some circumstances—56 percent of all respondents opposed voucher programs in their states.74
There is widespread public commitment to investing in strengthening our public education system. And there are many effective reform strategies with proven track records in raising student achievement, including smaller classes and better teacher training. An additional $90 million in Pennsylvania’s treasury could have helped defer the cost of teacher training or could have aided in reducing class sizes. In Florida, an extra $138 million could have helped with teacher recruitment and retention.
As Florida and Pennsylvania fight over constrained and stalled budgets, it is irresponsible for state officials to divert millions of dollars from the state treasury, especially into pr ograms with little or no accountability or oversight, and no evidence that they have benefited students.
And it would be equally irresponsible for education officials in other states to adopt these strategies.