Policy Study

Survey of Education Vouchers and Their Budgetary Impact on California

Executive Summary

A survey of Los Angeles Unified School District parents with children under the age of 16 currently enrolled in public schools shows that 52 percent of those surveyed would use a $2600 voucher to send their children to private school. Enthusiasm for the voucher was especially high among African-Americans. Over two-thirds of African-American parents with school-aged children said they would use the voucher. Overall, minorities, including Latinos and Asians, supported the idea of vouchers by nearly 58 percent.

A 52 percent use of vouchers statewide among all students now enrolled in public schools could reduce California’s state education budget by $3 billion-a savings which could be reinvested in public schools or used for other general fund purposes. Calculation of such a reduction assumes current enrollment and current funding levels from the state’s general fund and local property taxes with all savings accruing to the state.

Cost savings at the state level may not map the underlying cost structure of individual school districts. Because operating costs for public schools are composed of both fixed and variable costs, the number of students who leave the public schools must be great enough to reduce fixed costs before the voucher program becomes cost-effective for individual school districts.