Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough - House sub for SB 83

Following a lengthy three-hour debate on Tuesday, the Republicans managed to hold onto 61 yea votes, but saw several more moderate republicans vote with all democrats for a total of 59 nay votes. Tuesday's preliminary vote on House sub for SB 83 gives House leadership the evening to bully, threaten, and arm-twist those republicans who voted against the bill. By 9:00 pm Tuesday evening, one republican had no less than 11 text messages advising them to change their vote. A few of the texts talked about the bill, while others talked about party loyalty, but it was the personal visit when they started talking about the next election cycle. All this before a vote on Wednesday to determine if the House has the votes to push a voucher bill over to the Senate for a final up or down vote. As a note of reference, the bill must receive 63 yea votes to pass. With all this said, we would be remiss not to share a few of the low points and false information shared by House K12 Education Chair Kristey Williams.

Williams commented to the Sunflower State Journal today following the first vote on SB 83. She estimates the costs at only $58 million a year, but the Kansas Department of Budget estimates the cost of the program at $151 million. Lets check some numbers ourselves. If 26,000 students currently attend private schools in Kansas, and if 50% of those students take advantage of a $5,100 voucher, that equals $66 million. Added to that, if 1,000 public school students transfer to a private school, it adds another $5.1 million. We can’t forget that because of the delayed payments, the public school will continue to collect base state aid for those 1,000 students for one or two years after the student moves to a private school, thus adding a minimum $5.1 million. At a bare minimum, those numbers add up to $76 million. Just so you know, in Arizona when the law changed, 80% of the students in private schools took advantage of the voucher in year one. In Kansas, that would cost an additional $40 million added to the $76 million. You decide for yourself whose numbers are correct.


Williams also said she believes this is best for kids, not research, because the research is overwhelmingly against the successful impact of vouchers or ESA’s. Yet, Williams wants Kansas to take the recommendation of a professional politician compared to the piles of scholarly research demonstrating a negative to zero effect on student learning. Research also shows over 50% of students who move to private schools from a public school return back to the public school in less than two years. Additionally, states are spending as much as 25-30% more on education after vouchers are first implemented just to keep them going. One might wonder if legislators are voting for a political agenda as compared to what is best for Kansas students or the Kansas budget. Continuing to improve the education system doesn’t require creating a new system, but identifying the root cause of what’s not successful and work together to improve it.

How about a few additional facts:

Private voucher schools do not provide students with the same rights and protections they would otherwise have in public schools, such as those in Title VI, Title IX, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. And students who attend private schools using vouchers are stripped of the First Amendment, due process, and other constitutional and statutory rights guaranteed to them in public schools.

Private school vouchers do not adequately serve low-income students because the cost of tuition and fees at schools that accept vouchers generally exceeds the amount of the voucher, making voucher schools unaffordable for most low-income families.

Private school vouchers often fund poor quality schools. Because voucher programs lack accountability and oversight, vouchers often fund poor quality schools, including those that employ teachers with no credentials, operate in dilapidated buildings, lack proper facilities like restrooms, and teach questionable curriculum.

Just a few Research

Jonathan N. Mills & Patrick J. Wolf, Univ. of Ark., The Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Student Achievement After Four Years, EDRE Working Paper No. 2019-10 (Apr. 2019).

Megan Austin et al., Voucher Pathways and Student Achievement in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, Russell Sage Foundation J. of the Social Sciences (2019).

David Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik, Fordham Inst., Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition, & Performance Effects (July 2016).

Norin Dollard & Mary McKillip, Florida’s Hidden Voucher Expansion: Over $1 Billion From Public Schools to Fund Private Education, Fla. Policy Institute, (Sept. 20, 2022).

Bayliss Fiddiman & Jessica Yin, The Danger Private School Voucher Programs Pose to Civil Rights, Ctr. for Am. Progress, 3 (May 2019).