Douglas County Offers Vouchers to Students

The school board in Douglas County, Colorado voted unanimously to offer vouchers worth $4,575 to as many as 500 students who were not previously enrolled in private school.  The measure would save the district between $402,500 and $2.2 million and would greatly expand options for those families, including religious and secular private schools.

The teacher unions and their allies will almost certainly try to tie the program up in court and run their own board candidates in the hopes of rolling back the policy.  But with choice and other ed reforms being pushed all over the country and with the ability of unions to automatically deduct dues from payrolls being eliminated in a number of states, the ability of the unions to fight every battle in every location is limited.

The most effective political strategy for adopting ed reform is to “flood the zone.”  Propose a lot of ideas in a lot of places and the unions find it nearly impossible to block every one.  That’s what Jeb did in Florida and now reformers are adopting that strategy nationwide, enhancing its effectiveness.

7 Responses to Douglas County Offers Vouchers to Students

  1. matthewladner says:


  2. […] more can I say? Find a full report at Ed News Colorado, as well as blog coverage by Jay Greene and Adam Emerson. Get more details from the Douglas County School District choice page, or better […]

  3. A really odd place for a voucher system, and one so narrowly focused that it will quickly marginalize lower income families who will be unable to access it because of cost. Colorado already has a viable open enrollment policy, so this makes very little sense in any sense of practical education reform.

  4. Ben says:

    What is an odd place for choice? How is it narrowly focused, and how could that be remedied? Lower-income families will benefit from supplemental assistance from a private scholarship organization. Colorado has a lot to be proud of in its open enrollment law, but to think it has no flaws or that it has entirely fulfilled parental demand is wishful thinking.

    Funny you should mention open enrollment policy, though. Since an overlooked part of this choice reform is the district upgrading its open enrollment policy.

    The choice scholarship program’s success ultimately will be determined by parental demand, not our perceptions of what it’s likely to be. If it doesn’t work, we won’t have to undo the tentacles of government monopoly power.

  5. Almost making a rational argument … until you get to “government monopoly power.”

    Private scholarship organization? Leaving it up to charity on whether the poor get to exercise their choice? Not very astute or realistic.

  6. The initial parental demand statistics have also negated the majority of interest. Of the hundreds of calls about the vouchers, more than 75% were not eligible because they have not ever attended district schools – a key requirement. Thus, they are already funding their “choice,” mostly at schools that cost as much as four times the voucher amount.

    “Nuff said.”

  7. matthewladner says:


    Can you provide documentation for this 75% figure, or the four times the voucher amount assertion? There are of course Dead Poet Society type private schools that charge that much in tuition, but they tend to be very much the exception rather than the rule.

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