UW–Madison’s Mead weighs in on state ‘scholarship’ program for private-school students in Idaho

The Boise Post Register utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Julie Mead in an article reporting on a bill that passed the Idaho State Legislature creating new grants and scholarships for students.


Mead is the associate dean for education in the School of Education, and a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

One part of the bill, which had bipartisan support, would give grants to mostly low-income families for education-related purchases, the article explains. Both public- and private-school students could apply for these grants.

However, the second part of the bill would offer “scholarships” giving 90 percent of the money the state spends per-student to parents to use on non-public education. Opponents of the plan say it is indistinguishable from a private-school voucher program.

Mead, who the article referred to as a “leading expert on school vouchers,” explained that the program “accomplishes the same goal” as a voucher program in that “tax money collected by the state is spent on private education.”

“In my view, they’re just different forms of public refunded subsidies. … Sometimes I think people get interested in the nomenclature because they think it matters to people. They think that somebody may hear the word ‘voucher’ and think, ‘Oh no, I don’t like that.’ But they hear the word ‘scholarship’ and they think, ‘Oh that sounds good,’” Mead said.

Read the full article, here.