A Costly Gamble or Serious Reform?

California's School Voucher Initiative—Proposition 38
Bruce Fuller
University of California, Berkeley
Luis A. Huerta
Teachers College–Columbia University
David Ruenzel
Education Week and Teacher Magazine

California voters will decide whether to create a voucher program in which all families with school-age children could participate. If Proposition 38 is approved, parents could obtain a chit from the state worth $4,000 and move their child from their public school to a private school. This would significantly alter how all schools are financed throughout the state.

This policy brief speaks to six major questions:

  • What are the key elements of Prop. 38?
  • Does Prop. 38 differ much from the earlier voucher initiative considered by California voters in 1993?
  • Which families would likely benefit from the voucher program envisioned in Prop. 38?
  • How would Prop. 38 affect school spending—and taxpayers?
  • Have voucher experiments raised achievement after children enter private and parochial schools?
  • How sold are parents and voters on vouchers?
Suggested citationFuller, B., Huerta, L. A., Ruenzel, D. (2000, January). A costly gamble or serious reform? California's school voucher initiative—Proposition 38 [Report]. Policy Analysis for California Education.