School Choice: Experiences With Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits in Other States


School choice and competition between public and private schools have become subjects of intense debate in Utah. Senate Bill 34, currently before the State Legislature, would provide a tuition tax credit to parents who pay for private school tuition or for individuals and companies that donate to private school scholarship funds. Advocates for the measure say it will improve education for all Utah children by providing greater opportunities for students to switch to private schools if desired and by forcing public schools to compete to keep their students, thus improving the quality of the public schools through greater attention to quality. Opponents of the measure say it will harm the public schools by enticing the best students to leave the system and taking needed funds away from the public schools to subsidize private schools. Different fiscal estimates show that the measure will either cost millions of dollars a year or save small amounts at first, growing to millions of dollars in later years. Proponents claim that savings would be placed back into the public school system, proving greater resources for those students in public schools. Opponents claim that complicated funding formulas will lead to financial losses for most schools and make it more difficult to cover fixed costs to operate the schools.

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