New Voucher Question: Are There Enough Seats?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a twist on the typical school voucher debate, academics now wonder if there is enough room in private schools for all the students whose parents want to take advantage of expanding voucher and tax credit programs, according to Education Week.

There are enough seats in the short term, experts told Education Week, but long-term capacity is a more complex issue. Three states have significantly expanded their voucher or tuition tax credit programs, and others are considering it, the article said.

Meeting that demand will depend on such things as how many families are eligible for vouchers, the dollar value of the vouchers, how many religious and secular private schools choose to participate and how much space they have, Education Week reported.

An official with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said that Catholic schools there have room for about 4,000 voucher students, Education Week reported;  Indiana’s new law caps voucher participation at 7,500 in the first year and 15,000 in the second year.

The Alliance for School Choice, a Washington-based advocacy group, estimates that about 67,000 students were enrolled in voucher programs in 2010-2011, and about 124,000 were enrolled in tax-credit scholarship programs, the report said.

Education Week, “Capacity issues loom as voucher support surges,” June 14, 2011 (Subscription required) 

Michigan Education Digest, “School choice programs gain ground,” April 9, 2011