Public Funds Public Schools: 2023 Year in Review
As states continued ramping up efforts to establish or expand private school voucher programs in 2023, Public Funds Public Schools redoubled its commitment to ensuring that public funds for education are used to support and strengthen public schools. PFPS combines litigation, advocacy, research, and communications strategies and supports and partners with public education advocates across the country.
As we look toward 2024, PFPS’s work will be even more crucial. But to continue to protect public education, we rely on the support of allies like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Education Law Center to support the work of PFPS here.
Below are some highlights of PFPS’s work in 2023, and what to watch for in 2024:
Education Law Center, which directs the Public Funds Public Schools campaign, along with civil rights and educator organizations, filed a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs in South Carolina asking the State Supreme Court to strike down a recently enacted voucher law. The Court has agreed to hear the case.
Education Law Center and co-counsel continued to represent the plaintiffs in McEwen v. Lee, a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s 2019 education savings account voucher law.
PFPS and allies filed an amicus curiae brief in Parents for Public Schools v. Mississippi Department of Finance & Administration, a challenge to two Mississippi laws diverting federal Covid relief funds to private schools. PFPS also co-signed an amicus brief in Hile v. Michigan, in which the federal appellate court then upheld the Michigan Constitution’s bar against public funding of private schools.
Visit PFPS’s Litigation page for more information about lawsuits challenging private school voucher programs.
PFPS released an important report by Dr. Samuel E. Abrams and Dr. Steven J. Koutsavlis of Teachers College, Columbia University examining the growth in voucher programs and spending in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2019. The report found that in all seven states, expenditures of public funds on voucher programs increased dramatically.
Visit the PFPS Research page for an extensive catalogue of research about the negative effects of vouchers on academic outcomes, civil rights, school integration, public school funding, and more.
To provide public school advocates with maximum information and support in the fight against privatization, PFPS released a new and improved bill tracking tool. The interactive tracker monitors voucher and related legislation across the 50 states and in the U.S. Congress and allows users to conduct searches by state, year, voucher type, eligibility criteria, and more.
PFPS published a policy brief calling for the sunset of the Illinois “Invest in Kids” voucher program. In a landmark victory for public education, legislators declined to extend the voucher law, making Illinois the first state to roll back a private school voucher program.
PFPS also published a policy brief urging Texas lawmakers to reject proposals for private school voucher programs and instead focus on the state’s underfunded public schools. Despite four special legislative sessions called to push through a universal voucher bill, a bipartisan coalition defeated all voucher proposals and Texas remains voucher-free.
PFPS released a new fact sheet with succinct, evidence-based talking points explaining that voucher programs are expensive, that spending on vouchers increases over time, and that voucher program costs frequently outpace initial estimates. Read and download all PFPS Fact Sheets here.
In 2024, look for additional PFPS fact sheets and a report documenting trends in private school voucher legislation from 2021-2023.
PFPS continued to host webinars on issues related to private school vouchers and the campaign’s goal of keeping public funds in public schools.
In April, PFPS hosted the authors of the PFPS report, The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers, and Dr. Mary McKillip of Education Law Center and Dr. Norín Dollard of Florida Policy Institute, who have written about the cost of massive expansions of Florida’s voucher programs.
In October, PFPS was joined by the editors of The School Voucher Illusion: Exposing the Pretense of Equity, which examines the false promise that private school vouchers would provide more equitable educational opportunities to underserved or marginalized students.
PFPS also continued its interview series, which showcases the work of public education advocates across the country. The latest interview highlights the efforts of dedicated public school advocates in Betsy DeVos’s home state of Michigan, which remains voucher free.
Links to all webinars and interviews are posted on the Advocacy page of the PFPS website.
PFPS will continue to use every available tool to oppose voucher schemes in 2024. Sign up here to receive updates.
Visit the PFPS website regularly to access continually updated information on voucher-related litigation, legislation, advocacy, and research. Follow us on Facebook and X to stay up to date on the work of PFPS in the new year.