- Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos both had a hand in Indiana's school voucher program, which now serves 32,000 children, more than half of whom have never attended public school.
- The Washington Post reports DeVos was an important out-of-state lobbyist for the program before it was established in 2011, and the state lifted the cap on the number of allowable voucher recipients, eliminated a requirement that students must spend at least one year in public schools before getting a voucher, and raised the income cutoff for eligibility after Pence took office in 2013.
- By 2016, 52% of voucher recipients had never attended public schools, and many private school principals say the vouchers have made it easier for previously enrolled families to pay tuition, giving opponents a reason to say the program isn’t reaching students who need it most.
President-elect Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to distribute $20 billion of existing federal money to states that support school choice efforts. Where that money might come from has been an open question as the federal government does not have $20 billion it can easily move from one account to another. Analysts predict the campaign promise will not come to fruition.
The Every Student Succeeds Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Act represent billions in federal appropriations, but both have bipartisan support and likely won’t be touched. Trump and his new education secretary could use the federal bully pulpit to support state voucher programs and prompt expansion around the country, but the effort would necessarily be of a smaller scale than discussed.