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NEPC Review: The Reality of Switchers (EdChoice, March 2024)

Widespread reporting across multiple states has confirmed a pattern established by researchers of school voucher schemes: that new voucher programs subsidize a large number of students already in private schools. Most initial voucher users were already in private school or had otherwise not been enrolled in a public district. This undercuts a key argument used to expand vouchers: that they are cost-saving measures because they supposedly move students from public to private schools, removing expenses associated with educating those students in public schools. Despite the prevalence of this pattern, conservative think tanks periodically deny or obscure its importance and continue to frame vouchers as a new opportunity rather than a tax subsidy for existing behavior. A recent publication from EdChoice does just this. It uses proprietary data from voucher distribution organizations to argue that because some portion of previously non-public voucher users were benefitting from voucher-like tax credit systems prior to using the voucher itself, new impacts of their attendance on state budgets are minimal. The report also repeats overly simplistic analyses of voucher costs that obscure their real impact to taxpayers, and it fails to meaningfully dispute the established pattern that most voucher students were not enrolled in public school beforehand.

Suggested Citation: Cowen, J. (2024). NEPC review: The reality of switchers. EdChoice. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date], from

Document Reviewed:

The Reality of Switchers

Martin F. Lueken