I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Voucher Mendacity

The school voucher proponents are just so brazen in the way they twist the facts:
When critics worried that OSA would divert funds from local public schools, it is a revenue-neutral bill that was revised to pass on the savings as well as the costs to local school districts.
Although school districts bear the costs of their students’ scholarships, they also avoid the costs of educating those students. Since the average school district spends $18,000 on each student, districts will save at least $8,000 for each scholarship recipient in elementary or high school, respectively.
The money saved by OSA will allow school districts to invest even more money on the remaining students. [emphasis mine]
Here's the fiscal estimate prepared by the Office of Legislative Services for the OSA bill. It couldn't be more clear: this bill will take away money from school districts. It's completely disingenuous to call vouchers "revenue-neutral."

Further, the districts most likely will NOT save money from OSA. Why?

  1. The private schools will take the children who do not have special needs; in other words, the children who cost the most to educate. Every "cheap" student a private school takes raises the average per pupil cost of the district.
  2. As OSA says, the district may be on the hook for transportation costs.
  3. The district will lose any economies of scale, because it costs just as much to educate 18 kids in a class as it does to educate 20.
Oh, and by the way: all this talk about "saving" kids would be great if it were actually true. But vouchers do not increase student achievement, and private schools do no better than public schools in educating kids.

If you want to send your kid to private school, great. If the wealthy want to subsidize scholarships to private schools, great. Do it on your own dime.

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