EDUCATION POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Public Money for Private Schools - Vouchers and Neovouchers

By Matthew Ellinwood
Policy Analyst, Education & Law Project
April 2013

North Carolina legislators have considered a number of proposals to enact voucher-like schemes to transfer public money to private schools in recent years. During the current legislative session, state policymakers have introduced legislation that would create a new tax credit program for homeschooled students (House Bill 144) a voucher-like scholarship grant program for students with disabilities (House Bill 269), which would replace an existing tax credit program, and a voucher-like private school scholarship for families who fall below 300% of the federal poverty level (House Bill 944). In 2011, a bill that would have given a tax credit to corporations that donated to a voucher-like scholarship program for private-school tuition failed in committee.

Legislators have yet to consider traditional vouchers, largely due to successful legal challenges in other states and a lack of public support for vouchers. Instead, individual tax credits, education savings accounts (ESAs), and corporate scholarship tax credits are the preferred mechanisms for transferring public money to private schools. These policies are commonly termed “neovouchers” because they serve the same essential function as traditional vouchers but are an attempt to circumvent the constitutional separationof-church-and-state issues that arise when public money is funneled primarily to religiously affiliated private schools.