Charter Schools and like less expensive to Gov than public Educ? WTF? Nooooooooo
School Choice Saves Money and Helps Kids
Evidence builds, as political momentum grows in the states.
By Martin F. Lueken, WSJ
Dec. 12, 2021 4:48 pm ET
The momentum toward educational choice is undeniable. This year has seen unprecedented state-level expansion of educational opportunities for millions of families across the country, with 18 states passing legislation to introduce or expand educational choice programs—a trend that’s primed to continue through the 2022 election cycle. The recent electoral success of choice supporters in Virginia and New Jersey—traditional strongholds for special-interest groups that strongly oppose choice—coupled with school-board elections driven by parents wanting a voice in their kids’ classrooms, is emboldening states to expand educational options.
It also turns out that school choice programs save taxpayer dollars, removing another huge policy barrier.
My recent fiscal analysis of 40 educational choice programs from their inceptions through fiscal 2018 found the programs cumulatively saved taxpayers up to $28.3 billion on net, or $7,500 for each student who participated in these programs. In other words, for every dollar spent on expanding educational opportunities for families via choice programs, taxpayers saved about $2.80.
Public schools also are having a moment with the federal government directing $190 billion in pandemic relief funding—about $3,500 for each student—making it hard to argue that they’re short on cash.
Wherever choice programs are introduced, opponents inevitably argue they harm public schools and students who remain in them by “draining” much-needed resources. Some opposed to choice even go so far as claiming that these programs will lead to the “dismantling” of public school systems and an exodus of students.
These claims persist even though only 2% of all publicly funded K-12 students in states where choice programs operate participate in them, and these programs receive only 1% of the funding for public K-12 education. It appears that private school choice programs are educating kids at half the cost of public schools.
Research also indicates students who remain in public schools where choice programs exist improve academically. A 2019 meta-analysis, conducted by scholars at the University of Texas and elsewhere, concluded: “The lack of an overall negative impact on student outcomes might ease critics’ concerns that competition will hurt those students ‘left behind’ due to school-choice policies.”
No one is siphoning resources, and the kids in both public and private schools wind up better off than before. If anything, public schools operating alongside private schools in a choice environment have more of an incentive to use their resources wisely and center their efforts on student retention.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has opened a wider door to flexible schooling options for more children, it turns out that parents like having choices. Parental support in the U.S. for various school-choice policies ranged between 74% and 84%, according to a 2021 EdChoice poll.
Whether it’s financial objections or philosophical ones, choice opponents are running out of reasons to object to these policies. As this legislative season shapes up to become a busier one than we typically see during an election year, state lawmakers have an opportunity to implement educational choice programs that put families first and save public dollars.
Mr. Lueken is director of the Fiscal Research and Education Center at EdChoice.