Testimony opposing expansion of tax credit private school vouchers

This is the testimony we are presenting to the House K-12 Budget Committee and the Senate Education Committee in opposing to HB 2068/SB 61 which would further expand the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program, a thinly veiled school voucher program.

House K-12 Education Budget Committee
Chair, Rep. Kristey Williams

Senate Education Committee
Chair, Sen. Molly Baumgardner

Hearing: January 26, 2021

Position – OPPOSE HB 2068/SB 61

Chair, and Members of the Committee,

The Mainstream Coalition opposes HB 2068/SB 61, making further changes to expand the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program.

Mainstream affirms the right of every Kansan to an affordable, equitable, and excellent public education, from early childhood to post graduate opportunity, adequately funded by the state, that respects the professions that care for our children.

We stood in opposition to the original Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program because public tax money should not be spent on private, often parochial schools, that do not face the same scrutiny, requirements, or oversight as public schools. The proposed changes in HB 2068/SB 61 make this program even less compatible than it already was with Kansas’ Constitutional promise of an excellent public education for all.

The proposed bill would expand the pool of students eligible for the program from at risk students in low performing elementary schools to students in any public school. This will move the program towards a lifestyle choice for many parents who simply prefer a private or parochial school.

In addition, while Kansas public schools are held to strict scrutiny of student achievement and outcomes, private schools receiving these tax funds are not. State accreditation is not required of these schools. In fact, although it was begun in 2014, there is no data available, or required, to assess the success of the scholarship program in providing better outcomes for the students affected. There is no guarantee that students moved to these schools are, in fact, doing better than they were in their public school setting.

Our objections to the original program remain. The Mainstream Coalition espouses the separation of church and state as one of our founding principles, and regrets that the proponents of this bill feel Kansas taxpayers should pay for private, religious schools with no regard for student outcomes.

We ask you to please oppose passage of HB 2068/SB 61.

Thank you,

Michael Poppa
Executive Director of the Mainstream Coalition

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