Historian Jack Schneider and journalist Jennifer Berkshire call out the hidden secret of vouchers: they steal from the public schools of the poor to fund the private and religious schools of the affluent. In state after state, 75-80% of the kids who use voucher money are already enrolled in nonpublic schools.

In an article in The Nation, Schneider and Berkshire write:

The assault on public education currently unfolding in state legislatures across the United States stands to annually transfer tens of billions of dollars from public treasuries to the bank accounts of upper-income families. Those dollars, which otherwise would have gone to public schools, will instead reimburse parents currently paying private school tuition. It’s a reverse Robin Hood scheme that Americans would hate if they fully understood what was going on.

That’s not the sales pitch, of course. As Betsy DeVos and her allies like to put it, their cause is “education freedom.” They want American families to have “options” beyond their local public schools. And their plan for creating those options is to push various forms of school vouchers. The money that otherwise would have gone to local schools, instead, would be given to families. Families could then take those dollars—sometimes loaded on an actual debit card—and spend them at whatever kind of school, or on whatever kind of educational product, they want.

There are many reasons to dislike this plan. Public schools are open to all, meaning that they can’t turn students away on the basis of characteristics like ability or identity. And public schools serve the public good. That’s why we fund them with our tax dollars—because we expect them to serve all of us.

Private schools, by contrast, can turn students away for nearly any reason, including that they have disabilities that make them more expensive to educate. As more states adopt programs that use taxpayer dollars to fund private schools, taxpayers are increasingly footing the bill for discrimination.

In Florida, for instance, a religious school that notified families this fall that LGBTQ students were no longer welcome and would be asked to leave immediately still receives more than $1.6 million a year in public funds through the state’s private school voucher program.

But school voucher plans are a raw deal not just for public schools and the students who attend them but also for taxpayers. Programs like the one jammed through by the Republican legislature in Iowa this week stand to immediately transfer massive amounts of cash directly from state treasuries to the families that least need it.

While proponents, like Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, sold the plan as a way to give choices to poor and middle-class families, the program will chiefly subsidize the parents who already send their kids to private schools. The cost of that subsidy is significant—an estimated $340 million each year once the plan is fully phased in—and will be borne by the 500,000 students who attend the state’s underfunded public schools.

And it’s not just in Iowa that Republicans are pulling off this reverse Robin Hood maneuver. In Arizona, where lawmakers recently made all students eligible for school vouchers, 75 percent of the students who applied for the new subsidy never attended public school. The same dynamic is playing out in New Hampshire, where GOP legislators enacted an “education freedom” program over stiff public opposition. At Laconia Christian Academy, for instance, all but two families in the school took advantage of the program, pulling roughly half a million dollars out of the public treasury.

Please open the link and finish reading the entire article. It nails the essential outcome of vouchers, which may also be their purpose. They subsidize the students who never attended public schools at the expense of the public schools of the poor.