Daniel Luzer, the news editor of Governing magazine, reviews Arizona’s voucher program, enacted almost 20 years ago.

Competition was supposed to be a game-changer. Advocates said it would cost the state only $4.5 million a year and would lift the performance of minority students.

None of that was true.

The program now costs $140 million a year, and there has been little change in test scores for minorities.

It was a giveaway to the wealthy, who managed to save money on their taxes.

Luzer writes in Washington Monthly:

Over the 20 years the state’s education performance has gotten a little better, but that’s also occurred in pretty much every state in the country. The state has seen no significant improvements, either for students in general or ethnic minorities, as a result of the private school fund.

Another problem is that this fund is a way to avoid taxes. People or businesses can take care of their tax budgets by just dropping some money in the education slush fund. And that deprives the state of money it needs to operate.

In fiscal 2014, the most recent year available, Arizonans claimed $84 million in individual tax credits. Corporations claimed another $39 million.

But that’s a whole lot of money that they’re not paying for other things, funds Arizona needs to operate other programs.

The other, perhaps more serious, result, according to the article, is the state now essentially runs a tax scheme under which people and companies can avoid paying taxes (which pay for public schools) by contributing money into a fund that pays for a few people to pay for private schools.

Only about 3 percent of the money is designated specifically for special-needs students. And 32 percent of the scholarship money given through the individual tax-credit programs goes to children of “low income” families, defined as those earning 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,862 for a family of four…. The corporate tax credit for “low income” families has a more-generous definition — a family of four can earn as much as $82,996.

That’s because private school enrollment in the state is actually going down, and public school enrollment is increasing.

And meanwhile almost 70 percent of that fund is used to send the children of reasonably affluent people to “a school of their choice,” even though many of them could just afford the tuition on their own.

Not exactly a data-driven program.