Saturday, October 27, 2007

Clarifying What I Meant by "Cost to Public Education"

In a comment, Bradley reacted to a plausible interpretation of my last post on the cost of vouchers to public it. It was a plausible interpretation of what I said but not what I meant.

Here's what I meant...

Suppose little Jimmy's parents choose to send him to private school next year. Rightfully so, as you point out, Jimmy's public school allotment no longer goes to the public school. That's the way it should be.

But the problem for me is that $500-$3000 of your tax money also follows Jimmy to private school. That's $500-$3000 coming out of tax revenue and into education but not into public education.

I am calling that a cost to public education because that's $500-$3000 that our legislature decided to spend on education (instead of transportation, infrastructure, public safety etc.) but which did not go to public education.

The central question for me is still this: if we can find and extra $40 ish million a year (that's cost to tax payer minus savings to public ed. using the numbers for the 13th year in the Voter Information Guide) to spend on education, then is subsidizing private schools really the right way to spend it?

For a state with the lowest per-pupil spending in the nation already, I think that the answer is no.

If you look at educational outcomes (in terms of % of population with a HS degree for example), no other state in the union spends less on education per capita and gets better results. Imagine what we could do if we were closer to the national average.

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