Are you ready for vouchers?  With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, it is expected that the Trump administration will push a proposal for a voucher plan.  Think that sounds outlandish?

For years, the Republicans in Congress have defined themselves as anti-Obamacare.  When the Republicans won the presidency and both houses, they weren’t prepared.  “What’s next?” people asked.  They were the proverbial dog who finally caught the car.  Now what?  Republicans have stumbled in trying to repeal and/or replace Obamacare.

In the last few weeks, the Trump administration has launched a dizzying set of initiatives: banning Muslims, building a wall, ending the EPA, etc.  In each case, this is exactly what President Trump promised on the campaign trail.  And each time, there is surprise and outrage.  Really?  Weren’t you paying attention?

He has promised a $20 billion voucher program to give each poor student funding for the school of his/her choice.  This proposal is going to happen in some form.  In fact, there is a proposal to put a pilot voucher program for military families.  Now is the time to begin planning.

If poor students in your community were given a voucher to attend your school, how many would want to attend your school?  Do you have room?  Ultimately, the question strikes to the heart of what every school should ask: “How many students would enroll if it was free?”

We need to start the conversation.  I would hate to see schools admit 40 2nd graders, for example, when there is only room for 22 and there’s no budget to build a new classroom, hire a new teacher, etc.!  My recommendation:

  • What is your capacity per grade? Define that number and stick to it.
  • What is your capacity staffing plan? Remember that any voucher plan might be temporary so your school must be ready to contract after any expansion.
  • How would you go about developing a waiting list?
  • What is your enrollment plan? You need to plan for these fluctuations.
  • How many new students can you accept in any one year? New students and their parents needs to be educated about the expectations and culture of your school.  How will address those issues?

Are you ready for vouchers?