Many public school educators are opposed to school vouchers, because they know many people will use them to send their children to private schools. They can't stand the idea of public tax money supporting private institutions. I agree with them, but for different reasons. If our public schools can't compete with private ones, it is our job as educators to improve them, not to stamp out the competition. My reasons center more around protecting the private institutions from meddlesome interference by the State that might infringe on, say, free practice of religion.
Bill links in his recent post to a column on the Rethinking Schools website. As a teacher trained on the West Coast, I'm fairly familiar with Rethinking Schools. Their primary mission, as they state it is to improve the effectiveness of public education, but they also tend to be almost exclusively supportive of left-leaning approaches to taxes, education, and government, which is why they also oppose tuition tax-credits for parents sending their kids to private school. They believe this threatens public school funding by taking tax-dollars away from public education.
The way school funding generally works is that schools receive their funds based on student attendance. The more students present, and the fewer days they miss, the more funding the school gets from the state. This makes sense, because kids have to be there in order for resources to be expended instructing them. This is also one main reason why schools keep careful records of student attendance, and crack down on truancy.
But, but the money isn't theirs until I pay my taxes. And furthermore, if I choose not to send my child to a public school, or to home school her (and they are especially aghast at this latter option, I might add), I am saving the state the expense of educating that child, and taking it on myself. This means the state does not need the extra per-capita funding to educate that child.
The Cato Institute cites Education Department figures stating that a year of public education costs about $6,857 per child. Private school tuition varies widely, but the average across elementary and secondary schools is $3,116 per year. Some schools go as high as $10,000 per year.
When I lived in California, (making a first-year teacher's salary, I might add), nearly a quarter of my yearly income went to pay state and federal taxes. If I had been able to deduct $10,000 of tuition from that, that would mean saving only a little over $2,000 off of my taxes. Even if I get to deduct $10,000 per year from my taxable income, I'm not going to get to save as much on my taxes as I am going to spend on my child's education, which means the public schools are still going to get funds for a job I am not asking them to do. Rethinking Schools has no business complaining.