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Disingenuity in Public Education

1 November 2007

There’s a great article today by George Will on the school-choice/voucher referendum in Utah. Find it at:

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/will110107.php3

The financial issue is really much simpler than Will makes it. Let’s assume that the Meretria Public School District is allocated $10,000 per eligible student for a student body of 100. The MPSD budget is therefore $1 million.

Now, let’s give 5 of those children a voucher for $5,000 each to use at the private school of each student’s choice. The budget balance is now $975,000, spread over 95 remaining students. The MPSD budget now has $10,263.16 per student available for public education expenses, an increase of $263.16 per student. (If you noted that that represents almost a 3% boost in per-pupil spending by the MPSD, go to the head of the class.)

This argument that voucher programs “drain money from the public schools” is nonsense unless the vouchers are for more than the per-pupil average. (Nobody would have the guts to propose that.) The loyal opposition – the NEA and its state affiliates – is being utterly disingenuous in opposing them. They ought to take the $1.5 to $3.0 million that the Utah affiliate has authorized to try to defeat the voucher program and instead plow it into a capital improvement or two.

If they really wanted to increase per-pupil spending, they’d jump on board with the voucher program instead of opposing it to their dying breath. But that’s not what this is about to them, clearly. The possibilities are endless, but I suppose their primary objective is to preserve their virtual monopoly on educational options and ensure that there is no flight of dues-paying teachers to an increasing demand center in the private-school arena.

qb

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