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School choice vouchers are on the rise. Do they work?

School busses sit at the Alltown Bus Service yard on the first day of classes for Chicago's public schools on August 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
School busses sit at the Alltown Bus Service yard on the first day of classes for Chicago's public schools on August 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The debate over school voucher programs in the U.S. was already heated, and then Jay-Z got involved. The celebrity has thrown his support behindan initiative in Pennsylvania that would give vouchers to kids in low-performing districts to use for private schooling. 

School voucher programs vary from state to state, with about 30 currently participating in one form or another. Generally, they provide families with taxpayer dollars to use for private school tuition. While some school choice policies are designed for lower-income families or students with disabilities, more states are passing legislation to includeallfamilies.   

Critics say these expanded programs benefit wealthier areas and hurt public schools, while proponents argue more choice will lead to more student success.We untangle the research to understand what’s working (and not working) for kids today. 

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Michelle Harven