Fix Voucher Regulations with This One Weird Trick!

Public Rules on Private Schools

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

One of the big controversies surrounding school choice programs is whether they tend to increase government regulation of private schools. Big, sweeping claims have been easy to come by; serious scholarship studying the question, while not nonexistent, has been rare. Today the Friedman Foundation makes a major new contribution by releasing the study “Public Rules on Private Schools.” It is one of the most careful, methodical analyses to date on this question.

The big revelation for me in this study is that government regulations associated with voucher programs (as distinct from other types of school choice programs) is disproportionately made up of paperwork and other compliance requirements. Programs can largely nullify the effects of these regulations by adding some additional funding to cover compliance costs. Some programs do this already. This seems like a no-brainer for legislators to start including in future bill design.

So for the most part the war between voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs seems to me to be blown way out of proportion. Top up the voucher for compliance costs and the differences become unimportant.

Check out this awesome slideshow for tons of information plus author Drew Catt’s spot-on demonstration of what “nerd hipster irony” looks like.

9 Responses to Fix Voucher Regulations with This One Weird Trick!

  1. Parent Performance Contracting minimizes the threat that tax subsidization poses to independent schools.

  2. Jason Bedrick says:

    Greg, the voucher scores are three times more negative than the scholarship tax credit scores (controlling for special needs programs, they’re *five* times more negative) — that seems significant, no?

    • Greg Forster says:

      Well, once you take out the impact of paperwork regulations it’s not three times more negative! That’s my point.

      I suppose it all depends on what you call “important.” It’s pretty clear to me from scanning through all the graphs that outside of paperwork, neither type of program is imposing large burdens. There are no horrifyingly huge red bars in the curriculum categories, for example – the nightmare scenarios of government taking over curricula have not come to pass.

      • Jason Bedrick says:

        The paperwork can be quite significant and I’m not sure that simply giving them more money to handle it is a good solution (or even a politically viable one).

        I think you would agree that the impact of Common Core has the potential to be quite large, and the voucher programs are more likely to impose state (i.e. — CCSS) tests (though some of the STC programs do as well).

        Moreover, I think the study doesn’t give enough weight to certain regulations, particularly price controls, which can be particularly onerous. I don’t know of any STC program with price controls, but some of the voucher programs impose them.

  3. Tuition tax credits do not help people who do not make enough to owe taxes.

  4. […] the big takeaway regarding the solution for government regulation of school voucher programs as one simple weird trick: Programs can largely nullify the effects of these regulations by adding some additional funding to […]

  5. Adam Schaeffer says:

    Massively decrease apparent regulatory burden with one weird trick: change the baseline from unaccredited to accredited schools!

    Funny it’s Indiana . . . where’s the publishing org located? Weird . . .

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