Colorado county considers school vouchers

Despite an obvious financial penalty that the state of Colorado is seeking to impose on school districts who use vouchers, it might still be a way to improve education and save money.

The proposals on the table in Douglas County constitute a bold step toward outsourcing a segment of public education, and also raise questions about whether the district can afford to lose any public funds to private educators.

Already hit hard by state cutbacks, the local board has cut $90 million from the budget over three years, leaving some principals pleading for family donations to buy math workbooks and copy paper.

"This is novel and interesting—and bound to be controversial," said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative, educational think tank in Washington, D.C.

Vouchers for private and parochial schools have been used in a handful of states to aid students who are poor, disabled or trapped in failing urban schools, but according to school-choice experts, they have never been tried in affluent suburban districts noted for high-performing public schools. . . .

Public schools would likely lose some funding for each student who chooses to opt out, with the money redirected to independent contractors organizing the alternative curriculum. . . . .

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