Don't let vouchers come to WA!

Arizona EA President Marisol Garcia's message to WEA members about vouchers:

NO SCHOOL VOUCHERS logoWhat's going on with school vouchers?

A group called Restore Washington is pushing forward school-voucher initiatives that could take more than a billion dollars a year of tax money from already-underfunded public schools and give it to religious and secular private schools, or to people who say they’re educating kids at home. 

In states that have voucher programs, effects on public education have been devastating, according to a recent article in NEA Today.

The initiative’s sponsors started out trying to get on the November 2024 ballot with versions of the program that cost up to $1.2 BILLION per year and $2.4 BILLION per biennium.

But thanks to many of you, including our early work organizing against this effort and a legal challenge that showed the harmful impact of vouchers, we forced our opponents to change course!

Restore Washington announced in early March that they would delay putting vouchers on the 2024 ballot and would instead try to gather enough signatures by December for an Initiative to the Legislature in 2025.

If that signature gathering effort is successful, it would give the legislature three options: Pass it as-is, propose an alternative or do nothing and let it go to the November 2025 ballot.

TAKE ACTION: Please sign the ‘No School Voucher’ pledge and let others know about the harm vouchers would cause our public schools.

If passed, what would this mean for our schools?

This measure would blow a hole in education funding that could undo all the progress we’ve made since the McCleary decision. WEA President Larry Delaney has called this “an existential threat to public education in Washington.”

Voucher proponents try to appeal to good-hearted voters by painting these programs as a way to get kids from poor families into schools they couldn’t otherwise afford, but that’s not the reality of what’s happening. According to NEA:

  • An earlier Grand Canyon Institute report found that 80 percent of voucher applicants did not attend a public school, meaning they were are already attending private schools or being home schooled.
  • A 2023 analysis revealed that most voucher recipients in Arizona live in areas with median incomes ranging from $81,000 to $178,000. Just 5 percent come from ZIP codes where the median income is under $49,000.

Because small-town schools often don’t have the population base to afford the kinds of programs that city schools can, any new funding shortage this measure creates would hit rural schools harder. They’re already running closer to the bone and there’s less “fat” to trim. And small-town students often don’t even gain the ability to use the program to attend private schools, since most of those are located in or near larger cities.

As many WEA members know, private schools and homeschooling aren’t subject to the same certification and accountability requirements that public schools are, meaning that taxpayers could end up getting LESS for their tax money.

There are many more reasons to oppose vouchers, and you’ll be hearing more in the coming months, as WEA members, leaders and staff work together to educate Washingtonians on how vouchers could harm our students.

No Vouchers QR CodeRight now, we ask you to sign the ‘No School Voucher’ pledge and let others know about the harm vouchers would cause our public schools.

Learn more about the negative impacts of vouchers:

Arizona Empowerment Scholarships: What $304 million bought

Chicken Coops, Trampolimes and Tickets to SeaWorld: What Some Parents are Byuing with Education Savings Accounts

One Year in, Arizona’s Universal School Vouchers are a Cautionary Tale for the Rest of the Nation

Arizona Education Association President Marisol Garcia talks about vouchers at the 2024 WEA Representative Assembly: