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What is a voucher?

Essentially a voucher is when the state of Oklahoma takes money directly out of public education and paying for students who choose to receive a private education instead of attending public schools.

While championed as something other than a voucher, tax credit scholarships originated in Arizona as a way to circumvent church-state restrictions that were creating legal challenges for voucher programs.

That tax credit scholarships accomplish the same exact goal by indirectly routing the money to a private school via tax code loopholes is a distinction that makes zero difference in an economic sense. Law Professor James Dwyer of William & Mary Law School makes this point eloquently:


“If I give my daughters money for the movies but limit them to one of three currently playing movies, they know that I am paying for the movie, not them. If my daughters call me from school and say they need to pay fifty dollars right away in order to get a yearbook (teenagers not being known for excellence at advance planning ) and I tell them to use their own money for now and get reimbursed by me when they get home, they understand that I am the one who bought the yearbook, having decided that it was a worthy use of my money.

Likewise, if my daughter is at basketball practice and calls to tell me she needs fifty dollars right away for the team sneakers, but my ex-wife is picking her up from practice rather than me, I would ask whether her mother could give her the money now and get reimbursed by me later. My daughter would understand that it was I who paid for the sneakers, not her and not her mother, again based on my decision that it is a worthy use of my money. Finally, if they needed fifty dollars for a yearbook or sneakers and they owed me fifty dollars from some previous transaction, and I told them that instead of repaying that debt they should just pay for the yearbook or sneakers themselves and call it even, they would recognize that I had effectively paid for the yearbook or sneakers. Such understanding does not require great economic sophistication.

Thus, with every type of program I include within the description of “voucher programs,” the state knowingly directs some public money to private schools explicitly or implicitly approved by the state …¹”





¹Dwyer, J.G., No Accounting for School Vouchers, 48 Wake Forest L. Rev. 361, 382-83 (2013).