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The Defunded D.C. Voucher Program:

Today's Washington Post reports:

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, was created by a Republican-led Congress in 2004 to help students from low-income families. Congress has cut off federal funding after the 2009-10 school year unless lawmakers vote to reauthorize it.

Overall, the study found that students who used the vouchers received reading scores that placed them nearly four months ahead of peers who remained in public school. However, as a group, students who had been in the lowest-performing public schools did not show those gains. There was no difference in math performance between the groups. . . .

The study, conducted by the Education Department's research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences, compared the performance and attitudes of students with scholarships with those of peers who were eligible but weren't chosen in a lottery. Parents of students in the program were more satisfied with their children's new schools and considered the schools safer, the report found. Students showed no difference in their level of satisfaction.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. D.C. Vouchers - RIP?
  2. The Defunded D.C. Voucher Program:
KeaponLaffin (mail):
And yer surprised how? That the Democrats aren't gonna re-approve a program that works?

My sister is a teacher in a Charter School(like private school vouchers, but not..same applies tho since the Teacher's union shut down Florida's Voucher program(thru judicial activism) and is trying to do the same to Charter Schools).
She actually teaches students who want to learn, kicks out those who don't, uses very stern words at parents who insist on protecting their little jerk(when they have obviously, without question, and with evidence, actually behaved like an jerk)..and lo and behold, she doesn't get fired(almost tho, multiple times) for doing her job.
She is a very good teacher, those students willing to learn do very well. Better than yer average public school student.

This obviously pisses off the Teacher's Union...cause she's not a member. So she, and her job, must be destroyed.

I also question the poll's validity on asking about student satisfaction. No difference? Duh. Any kid when asked how they like school is gonna say 'School sucks'. I'd actually believe it more if they said they hated private schools more because they were 'too hard' compared to public schools.
4.5.2009 9:49am
Larry K (mail):
Another point of view on this Post piece, which points to its rather dubious journalistic tactics:

http://www.dailyhowler.com/
4.5.2009 10:29am
Tony Tutins (mail):
@KL: I agree about the "comparative level of satisfaction," and would like to see the distribution of survey responses -- percent love, percent hate, percent "meh" -- for both voucher schools and regular schools.
4.5.2009 10:51am
common sense (www):
The Onion News Network had a story about how 100% of kids were against universal health care for kids because they didn't want to go to the doctor. Same thing here. I'm not interested in the kids' satisfaction now; maybe 10 or 20 years from now. I am surprised that the improvements were not greater, especially in math.

The question is how we improve the public schools, which is what the article asks. I'm all for vouchers, and I think public schools should learn to compete, but as long as the teachers' union wields sufficient power to protect the incompetent, they won't have to. Just look at the DC plan for merit pay that would have resulted in some teachers making six figures. Shot down because of the merit part.

Vouchers are a great idea, and the competition is needed, but you have to implement the entire solution, and that means making public school administrators feel the pressure.
4.5.2009 11:00am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Since it began, the voucher program has awarded scholarships to more than 3,000 students from low-income families, granting up to $7,500 a year for tuition and other fees at participating schools.

Does anyone know how much the average private school in DC costs? 7.5K a year seems a bit on the low end.
4.5.2009 11:49am
Grover Gardner (mail):
As another commenter pointed out, the Post article badly misreports the conclusions of the study. For half the subgroups studied, the improvements in reading equaled 3.1 months over three years. The other half, including students from SINI (Schools In Need of Improvement) who most needed the help, showed no improvements. A careful reading of the study itself might prompt one to question the overall effectiveness of the program.
4.5.2009 11:52am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Does anyone know how much the average private school in DC costs? 7.5K a year seems a bit on the low end.


The Cato institute reported in 2003 that private schools in DC average $4500, with 39% over $10,000 a year. I'm quite sure that's gone up by now, but you can certainly find Catholic and Montessori grade schools for under $7500.
4.5.2009 11:59am
loki13 (mail):
I tend to be skeptical of both the movement toward charter schools as well as our current public school system (as a whole). There are a few things that I tend to be mindful of:

1. It is possible to have good, no great, public schools, and some communities have them.

2. It is also possible to have good/great private (and charter) schools, and some communities have them. There are also bad private schools, as several recent scandals have shown.

3. Furthermore, when private schooling expands and crowds out the public schools, there tend to be more of the "bad" private schools; the reason that private schools as currently constituted are so good is that they have to provide *such* a superior product to be worth the (often substantially) more money than, um, free.

The issue of education is a difficult one. I am reminded of the article done by Gladwell comparing teachers to NFL QBs. While some of the article was definitely overstated, the main thesis seems sound- it is difficult to predict a priori who is a good teacher and who is a bad teacher. The worst effect of teacher unions, then, is that once someone gets in, the stay in. The question of public vs. private ends up being not nearly as important as restructuring the hiring process of teachers so that it less credentialized at the outset and more focused on analyzing their actual results in the classroom, especially in their early years.

The other take from this, of course, is that DC is often the playground of Congress and their ideas du jour, yanking between one ideological extreme to another, often to see the funding disappear from whatever harebrained idea gets hatched up. But that's a separate issue.
4.5.2009 12:08pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

The Cato institute reported in 2003 that private schools in DC average $4500, with 39% over $10,000 a year.

How do you get a median (around) twice that of the mean?
4.5.2009 12:10pm
Jing:
Everyone is dancing around the giant pink elephant in the room in regards to the educational issue in Washington DC, that is Race. You can take the student out of the ghetto but you cannot take the ghetto out of the student. One cannot be surprised that the results of the voucher program are minimal if you are already familiar with the effects of eliminating government housing neighborhoods on crime. It didn't reduce crime per say, it just diluted it and redistributed it to new neighborhoods where the residents were resettled. Fact is, the Washington DC school system is populated by a large percentage of under-performing lumpen-proletariat Black pupils. Changing them to a new school is not going to render them into over-performing upper-middle class White pupils. The advocates of the school voucher program will never have the courage to openly admit what the real function is, that is to re-segregate the U.S. public schooling system by allowing those parents with the initiative, if not the resources for private schooling, to pull their children out of public schools dominated by dysfunctional black students who ruin the educational process for their peers. Offering vouchers to those same dysfunctional students will have the effect that this study demonstrated, i.e. lipstick on a pig.

To truly and dramatically raise the level of public education in the U.S. requires acknowledging the real problem and taking revolutionary steps to address it. Repeal mandatory K-12 education for all children will insure that only children and the parents of children who wish to be in school will be in attendance. Next, add a small tuition for public schools to eliminate freeloaders who only attend because it is free. This ensures that poor and working class parents are willing to commit resources for their children's education and will be incentivized to push for success as opposed to simply wasting other taxpayers money.
4.5.2009 12:31pm
loki13 (mail):
Jing,


The reason that people do not need to talk about the "elephant in the room" is that your particular elephant isn't in evidence. The main predictor of success in public schools is not race, or the overall racial makeup of the school, it is socio-economic class, and the socio-economic class of the school. Is there a correlation between race and class? Yes. But the correlation between a school and being successful (as opposed to being a "dead zone") is the s-e class of the student body.
4.5.2009 12:38pm
Desiderius:
Perhaps a study now on the satisfaction of children who've been aborted, with the survival of reproductive choice in the balance?

School choice is not an effectiveness issue. It's a freedom issue.
4.5.2009 12:39pm
concerned:
Personally, I like the exclusivity of private schools. I don't want some inner-city thug coming into the private school of my kid as part of some social experiment--and I certainly don't want the government to pay for it. Let him shakedown kids and deal his drugs somewhere else. And if his parents want him to go to private school but can't afford it, get a second or third job. Don't depend on the government for it.
4.5.2009 12:40pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Ruffles: it's easy to imagine the median anywhere above or below the mean, depending on the distribution.

There are 10 schools. The average of four of them is 10K. In order for the average of all 10 to be 4.5K, you'd need the average of the remaining six to be .83K, or 830. Check my math though.
4.5.2009 1:03pm
Desiderius:
Strickland did the same thing in Ohio - first thing we do is kill all the lawyers the competition of our most reliable supporters. It's as if Intel took over the Republican Party and immediately killed off Apple as soon as it entered office. Macs are more expensive, don'tcha know - women, minorities hardest hit!

What we're witnessing is the Counter-reformation of the progressive/wholesome left established church. Welfare reform, market liberalization, judicial restraint, diversity of political thought, basically anything that happened post 1980: see ya! Luther Reagan was evil. Must purge! Trent wasn't much concerned with freedom (of conscience or otherwise), but it did manage to enact some long overdue reforms - competition will do that. Too bad the monopoly state schools now will have none.

BTW, if the NEA and their supporters maintain this hard line, we may get the repeal of compulsory education sooner than they think.
4.5.2009 1:14pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Okay, ruufles, if you're troubled by Cato's numbers, here's some anecdotal evidence. When we were looking at private schools in the DC area in 2005, you could find a number of parochial, Baptist, Lutheran or Montessori schools under $7500. The British School was $15K and the International School was something like $20K. We didn't even look at St. Albans and some of the others. The point being that, at least for the initial grade levels, $7500 could get you in the door of a private school. But in many of those cases the training was religion-based, so if you didn't want that your choices were far more limited.
4.5.2009 2:33pm
Bretzky (mail):
loki13:

An even more important predictor of school success is parental involvement. When parents get involved in their children's education, then those children invariably perform better than similarly socio-economically situated children.

The main problem with the educational performance of children in poor urban families (and it is a poor urban problem, not a Black urban problem) is too many single-parent families. A child really cannot win when he or she only has one parent raising him or her. The good parents spend so much time working to feed, clothe, and house their children that they have virtually no time to spend dealing with their children's educational performance. And the bad parents are just that: bad. You are not going to fix poor urban schools until you fix the poor urban family structure.

School vouchers do permit those students from poor families who have adequate parental support at home, or who have the internal drive to overcome their family situations, to escape a failing school and go somewhere where they will get the attention they need and will not have to deal with the distractions that exist in a poor urban school. School vouchers should be continued for this reason alone. But they are far from being a panacea.

It's not surprising that the average child involved in a voucher program does not outperform the peers he or she has left behind. Going to a different school does not change a child's family situation. Without adequate support at home, most children are going to do poorly in school regardless of what school they attend.
4.5.2009 3:07pm
Shahid Alam:
Ruffles-- The confusion with the Cato numbers are that the $4500 figure represents the median, and not the mean. But, yeah, your math spider sense is right were it supposed to be the mean.

The Cato story is here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3231
4.5.2009 3:57pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
The question is how we improve the public schools, which is what the article asks.
1. No high school over about 500 students.
2. Each high school, and the junior high and elementary schools feeding into it, should be an independent school district, run by an elected board residing in the community.
3. Said board has complete hiring/firing/curriculum discretion.
4. Parents can opt to take their kids to another school district.
4.5.2009 4:39pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Libertarians should note that (except for Montessori) the bargain-priced private schools are denominational. In most inner cities, the attainable (with vouchers) alternative to public school is Catholic school. I don't have a problem with public school kids getting a good dose of Jesus with their education, but many do.
4.5.2009 5:04pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I could not help but notice that Jing is seeing not only elephants that are not there, but pink ones.
4.5.2009 5:55pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Did the newspaper point out that the slight improvement in reading and equal standing in math occurred at one-fourth the cost? The per capita per year cost for DC public schools is $27,000, one of the highest in the country. So, contra Malthus (amazing, economist Malthus got another one wrong), this was saving, not costing, the taxpayers money (or at least it could, if the money to the government schools is decreased when less children attend).
4.5.2009 7:23pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

The confusion with the Cato numbers are that the $4500 figure represents the median, and not the mean.



My bad for misquoting the Cato article!


Libertarians should note that (except for Montessori) the bargain-priced private schools are denominational.


And even some of the Montessori schools are religiously affiliated.
4.5.2009 7:26pm
Perseus (mail):
The main predictor of success in public schools is not race, or the overall racial makeup of the school, it is socio-economic class, and the socio-economic class of the school.

True, but Asians consistently outperform blacks and Hispanics (even taking into account socioeconomic status), which means that ethnicity is not an insignificant factor. So Jing's pink elephant is not merely a figment of his imagination.
4.5.2009 7:28pm
Jing:
The problem is that so many people when discussing education reform are so myopic that a school bus could be driven through their intellectual blind spots. School performance correlates most strongly with race, even more so than with the socio-economic status of parents. Given equivalent family incomes, Black pupils still underachieve scholastically vis-a-vis White pupils.

Bretzky demonstrates how it is possible to miss the forest for the trees. The rate of bastardy for children born to Black Americans is already well over 70% on a national level. I shudder to think what the percentage is for poor urban residents. If that is not a Black problem, then I don't know what is.
4.5.2009 7:47pm
Jing:
That said, my solution for public school reform is a simple race neutral two step process that is actionable and immediate. Abolish compulsory K-12 education and institute tax-deductible individual student tuition paid for by the parents of students and not the collective taxpayer. It needn't be too large, something similar to the cost of an annual community college tuition. This will near instantaneously improve the quality of public schools in America while simultaneously reducing education associated costs. Some may argue that this plan banishes the most needy youth from the system and lets them fall through the gap. I say that the gap exists already and the youth are already failures to begin with. Attempting to tissue paper up the gulf with billions of public money is foolishness.
4.5.2009 8:00pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

The per capita per year cost for DC public schools is $27,000, one of the highest in the country.


Got a cite for that figure?

Andrew Coulson of the Cato institute claims that actual per student expenses for DC are close to $25,000, and that this is comparable to tuition at some of DC's priciest private schools. Setting aside for the moment that per student spending is not usually calculated in the way he does it, one must remember that private schools depend heavily on private fundraising to cover costs that tuition fees do not. For example, Sidwell Friends charges $29,422 for Middle School tuition, plus parent associations fees, book fees and extra charges for busing. In addition, they have four fundraising campaigns going on to cover capital improvements, operating budgets, student events and scholarships. At Catholic schools there are also compulsory tithes which can add up to quite a bit of money.

It's certainly true that by normal comparisons DC's per student spending is high and the results less than satisfactory. But let's not get carried away making unfair comparisons.
4.5.2009 8:08pm
Sarcastro (www):
Personally, I think public schools should only educate wealthy certified genuses with unemployed but motivated parents. Sure, public schools may thus only serve about a dozen people, but think of what a quality product they would put out!

Educating poor families is clearly just throwing the money away. After all, if they were motivated, they wouldn't be poor, would they? Rather than educating them, we should put them all to work for private businessmen. In return, we would feed and house them. We could even create a marketplace for such labor, and thus stimulate the economy!
4.5.2009 8:24pm
Thoughtful (mail):
I disagree Sarcastro. I think the public schools should be restricted to educating species...
4.5.2009 9:54pm
eck:
Andrew Coulson of the Cato institute claims that actual per student expenses for DC are close to $25,000

Whether the number is 25K or 27K, what's missing from the discussion is the fact that per-student costs in DC are heavily skewed by the high proportion of, and often extremely high costs of serving, special ed students. In many cases, DCPS ends up simply paying for such students to attend expensive schools with remedial programs (such as the Lab School). And then there are the substantial costs of dealing with the litigation brought by parents seeking such accommodation; there's quite a cottage industry, one trivially verifiable via the obvious Google search.

If you cut out the special ed outlays, the per-student costs aren't even close to the numbers tossed around above.
4.5.2009 10:05pm
Sarcastro (www):
Thoughtful hates ligers AND mules!
4.5.2009 10:19pm
cubanbob (mail):
Better to simply make all forms of welfare contingent on graduating high school or vocational school. Make dropouts ineligible for welfare benefits for five years from drop out year until either that person went back to school and graduated or has five years of work credits.
4.5.2009 11:08pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Children may be members of races or ethnic groups, but -- surprise! -- each child is an individual. And some of those individuals not only won't get any benefit from being exposed to educational opportunities, they need to be actively excluded from the other kids, so they can't prevent the other kids from learning.

A major advantage of private and charter schools is that they can expel the jerks and thugs, and keep them out. Public schools expel the troublemakers ... who are then transferred to another public school in the district. And the second school's troublemakers are transferred to the first school.

And sometimes the troublemakers are in control. When I was a kid my family moved to another school district so I wouldn't have to attend a certain junior high in Los Angeles, and several of my black friends' families moved for the same reason. In the school we would have attended, black thugs regularly beat up other black kids for studying, getting good grades, and otherwise "acting white." And we heard some real horror stories about the high school ...
4.6.2009 12:47am
Grover Gardner (mail):

And some of those individuals not only won't get any benefit from being exposed to educational opportunities, they need to be actively excluded from the other kids, so they can't prevent the other kids from learning.


Ah, my fellow Oregonian! Close the public libraries for want of a penny in sales tax, and then wonder why businesses that support families don't want to relocate here! This is a beautiful, wonderful state, but the contradictions are legion.

The problem is that, unless you want a permanent underclass that is dependent on the state (and they WILL be dependent whether you like it or not), you have to struggle. It's a terrible struggle, but I believe it's worth it.
4.6.2009 1:13am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
The problem is that, unless you want a permanent underclass that is dependent on the state (and they WILL be dependent whether you like it or not), you have to struggle. It's a terrible struggle, but I believe it's worth it.

Where did I say that the struggle had to be abandoned?

Yes, we have to try, and try with all of them ... if for no other reason than the fact that we don't know in advance which of these kids can be reached and which can't.

The problem is that, even though you don't want a permanent underclass, and even though you do struggle, some of these kids will continue to be failures no matter what you do.

You may feel sad about their fate, but that's no reason to allow them to condemn the other kids in their classes to an inferior education. We should try to salvage the troublemakers, but we should do that in separate classes that are geared to meeting their needs. There's no obligation, in the name of some Procrustean sense of equality, to inflict the kids who want to learn with their presence.
4.6.2009 2:00am
Desiderius:
"An even more important predictor of school success is parental involvement."

Nothing like denying them any say in where their child goes to school to promote that! Sheesh! If Milton Friedman hadn't been considered the author of the idea, we'd already have school choice - as we do with Pell Grants and the like - but nothing must interfere with the demonization of libertarian cum Republican ideas. Even good ones.

Progressivism: Forced busing good, voluntary busing bad! Some progress!
4.6.2009 2:04am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Nothing like denying them any say in where their child goes to school to promote that!


Who's denying anyone their say in where their children go to school?

I can't afford Sidwell Friends, pal. Period. That's not the government's fault. You seem to think I ought to beg the government for money to be able to send my kid there. Libertarian my a**. I've got to take my chances with what the public schools have to offer and try to work with it from there.


Where did I say that the struggle had to be abandoned?


Right up there, when you advocated separating out the good from bad and letting the bad stew in their own juices. You heard some "real horror stories" and beat a retreat. That's the horror story right there.
4.6.2009 3:03am
Sarcastro (www):
Who knew the voucher debate was really all about Milton Friedman? I totally thought there were issues involved, but it turns out it's all personal!
4.6.2009 4:29am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Right up there, when you advocated separating out the good from bad and letting the bad stew in their own juices. You heard some "real horror stories" and beat a retreat. That's the horror story right there.

Arrant nonsense. I advocated separating troublemakers, bullies, and disruptors from kids who want to learn. If you see characters on your screen that spell out "letting the bad stew in their own juices," then you really need to take your meds or to get a stronger prescription.

I didn't "beat a retreat," my family and other families moved so their kids wouldn't get beaten. That you supposedly are comfortable with a relatively small number of troublemakers destroying the educational opportunities for so many other kids is appalling.

But I think you're just a troll. Go back under your bridge.
4.6.2009 5:23am
Desiderius:
Grover,

"I can't afford Sidwell Friends, pal. Period. That's not the government's fault. You seem to think I ought to beg the government for money to be able to send my kid there. Libertarian my a**. I've got to take my chances with what the public schools have to offer and try to work with it from there."

The money's already there - you can choose to send it anywhere you like, as long as its the company government school. Public, my ass - the people are told that their choices don't amount to a hill of beans.

You know, Post gets all worked up, and rightly so, with a corrupt Pennsylvania judge who tax farms kids by sending them to his buddy's prison, but I can't see a whole lot of difference between that and the NEA keeping millions chained (yes, it is compulsory - how does that suit your libertarian ass?) inside its soviet-style monopoly schools so that the tax money goes directly to them, cutting out the parental middleman they profess to care so much about.

They pretend to teach, the kids pretend to learn.
4.6.2009 8:44am
Desiderius:
If T.R. were Arne Duncan:

"Big picture, I don't see busting the railroad trust as being the answer," Duncan TR said in a recent meeting with Washington Post editors and reporters. "You can let two or three farmers negotiate their own prices, and you're leaving 97, 98 percent behind. You need to help all those farmers. The way you help them is by challenging the status quo where it's not working and coming back with dramatically better railroads and doing it systemically."

Except with schools, we've gotten the same old song and dance in that latter sentence for the past century. We've got something already that does that, Arne - its called free competition. Trusting the trust to all of a sudden start serving the public interest out of the kindness of their hearts ain't been cutting it, and it ain't been for a long time.

"Public" schools are the medieval cathedrals of our time: unconscionable sums spent entirely on faith, producing isolated islands of bittersweet beauty among widespread squalor, but of doubtful utility given the alternatives.
4.6.2009 8:54am
Gramarye:
A question that's bothering me about these numbers, and bothered me about a similar voucher experiment in Ohio: if the cost of education is $25,000, why is the voucher only for $7500? Is it an issue of fixed costs vs. variable costs/marginal costs, with only the marginal increase in costs per pupil withheld from the public school and sent with him/her to the private school?

If the full cost of education (assuming arguendo the validity of the $25,000 figure) were actually made an individual entitlement of the student rather than remaining partially a collective entitlement, vested in practice in the school board of the district the student is abandoning, the student could in fact go to Sidwell Friends. Is there an economic reason that the full cost of education doesn't follow the students in this voucher program? Or is it the same kind of mentality that caused a sizable number of Georgetown residents to support the Metro running all over the city except for Georgetown?
4.6.2009 9:17am
eck:
soviet-style monopoly [public] schools ... They pretend to teach, the kids pretend to learn

Interesting. I guess my older son, who attends a DCPS high school (and has attended DC public schools from day one), is just pretending to take 4 AP courses as a junior this spring. Worse, the College Board must be part of this massive exercise in delusion, since they pretended to send him an SAT score this winter that easily puts him in the top half of freshmen at the most selective Ivy League colleges.

DCPS indisputably has problem schools and problem teachers. But anyone who claims that the system can't possibly serve talented students, or the strivers being siphoned off to private schools via vouchers, doesn't have the faintest idea what he's talking about. (That, or he does know the reality &chooses to ignore it because it doesn't suit his doctrinaire view of the world.)
4.6.2009 10:19am
geokstr:
A study by a government agency purporting to analyze the cost/benefit of a program, where if the result showed that the program really worked, it would mean that many of the underlying purposes of the agency itself were not valid, and they find the program wanting.

Golly gee whiz, what a coincidence.

I'd also like to know how they judge reading and mathematical skills so precisely that they can determine it down to the tenth of a month. This is bizarre.
4.6.2009 11:08am
geokstr:

eck:
...per-student costs in DC are heavily skewed by the high proportion of, and often extremely high costs of serving, special ed students.

And I'll bet that you are not even including the heavy ancillary costs of many of the so-called "special ed" students, like the hefty drain on Social Security for "disabilities" like ADD and ADHD, for which controversy still rages on whether they exist at all. There have been lots of stories of parents ordering their children to be disruptive in school so they can become eligible for the payments.

I recall a "60 minutes" program probably 20 years ago which documented a woman in a southern state who had 5 children, every one of which was "diagnosed" as needing "special ed" because of disruptive behavior in school. With FICA payments of $600/head/month, she was generating an income of $36,000/year, not counting the welfare and other benefits unrelated to Social Security.

I'm sure individual payments have increased in the intervening two decades.

It's an axiom of the interaction of government and human nature; subsidize anything and you'll get lots more of it. It even works for bad parenting, obviously.
4.6.2009 11:28am
Sagar:
bastards!

makes me want to believe Neal Boortz when he said (paraphrasing) "the teachers' unions represent a greater danger to this country in the long run than al Queda does"
4.6.2009 1:28pm
Sagar:
Sarcastro:Personally, I think public schools should only educate wealthy certified genuses with unemployed but motivated parents

i think they need to educate you too.
4.6.2009 1:29pm
Desiderius:
eck,

I attended, and teach in, an excellent public school as well. Even in an excellent school, there are no shortage of teachers who go through the motions, and students who follow their lead, even among those collecting all the choicest credentials. Ask an Ivy prof how well their students take to independent thought.

That said, if parents living in less fortunate districts would like to send their children to my school or even, gasp!, a religious school of their choice, I say let them. You evidently don't. What I don't understand is how the latter is more liberal than the former.
4.6.2009 2:03pm
eck:
if parents living in less fortunate districts would like to send their children to my school or even, gasp!, a religious school of their choice, I say let them. You evidently don't.

On the contrary, I say let them. Where you and I differ, it seems, is in whether they should be able to do so using special subsidies from the public fisc.
4.6.2009 2:21pm
Adam J:
Desiderius- I don't think anyone's opposed to parents being able to having school choice. The issue is when school vouchers are used to promote this choice, this results in less money going to public schools. Less money in public schools mean excellent public schools like yours will suffer from less resources, larger class sizes, and undercompensated teachers.
4.6.2009 2:23pm
Sagar:
Adam J

when vouchers are given to some students (or their parents), it doesn't result in less money for public schools on a per student basis.

the amount of voucher is always less than the total money spent per kid in the school district. so the parent gets some of the money being spent on the kid in a public school (and presumably chips in with some of his/her money) and puts the kid in a 'private' school.

the public school loses some money, but also a student, so comes out with a net benefit as long as most of the students don't leave.

e.g. take a class of 30 students. govt spends $10,000 per kid. total budget is $300,000. say there is a voucher program that gives a student $7000 to go to private school and 10 kids take advantage of the offer.

now the class has 20 students and 'only' $230,000 budget (in your words, it lost $70,000) but now the class size is smaller @ 20 and the per student spending went up from $10,000 to $11,500.

as i said, if most of the kids left the school, the remaining budget may not be enough to support fixed costs and still be viable -- but if most of the kids want to leave a school (at only partial credit of vouchers) the school doesn't deserve to stay in business in the first place.
4.6.2009 4:21pm
Adam J:
Sagar- You're analysis is inaccurate- you analysis is based on the premise that vouchers will only go to students that would go to public schools "but for" the student voucher. However, vouchers would also go to students who would go to private school irregardless of the voucher. Thus, in your example more then 10 students would receive vouchers, because a substantial number of students already going or intending to go to private school would also receive vouchers. (The income cap in this specific voucher program does ameliorate this problem to some degree).
4.6.2009 4:57pm
Desiderius:
Adam J,

Thanks for clarifying. Otherwise, I'd be mystified how anyone could buy the monopoly school line that vouchers cost the "public" schools. As far as I'm concerned, "public" schools are where the public chooses to obtain their education with the funds the public has supplied for that purpose.

As Sagar noted, the monopoly schools are funded on a per pupil basis already, so the idea that vouchers for their existing students would cost the "public" money is nonsensical. Programs like the D.C. one are tightly targeted at kids who would otherwise have no choice, not Sidwell Friends attendees.

Look, school vouchers were killed by the suburban gated-community crowd within the Republican Party who could see the writing on the wall of where real choice was headed. That's why its not on the top of the real R agenda like it was in the 90's. Why any self-respecting progressive would sign on with this crowd is beyond me, beyond the political logrolling required to keep the risk-averse teacher's unions happy.

The losers, as seems to be the pattern lately, are the kids themselves.
4.6.2009 7:11pm
Desiderius:
eck,

"On the contrary, I say let them. Where you and I differ, it seems, is in whether they should be able to do so using special subsidies from the public fisc."

What's special about them? The money's already there - the question is who gets to allocate it: parents or self-interested bureaucrats.
4.6.2009 7:13pm
Desiderius:
Sarcastro,

"letting the bad stew in their own juices"

Ah, yes, apart from the established church government schools, man is indeed lost. The more things change...
4.6.2009 7:19pm
eck:
What's special about them? The money's already there - the question is who gets to allocate it: parents or self-interested bureaucrats.

While we're at it, how about if we all get to direct allotments of the local transportation budget -- say, in proportion to the household's number of registered motor vehicles -- for our own personal benefit?
4.6.2009 8:04pm
Desiderius:
eck,

"While we're at it, how about if we all get to direct allotments of the local transportation budget -- say, in proportion to the household's number of registered motor vehicles -- for our own personal benefit?"

Egads! Personal benefit! The horror! Given the typical orange vest productivity I see, your idea seems a good start, but perhaps I'm misreading you.

So is what bothers you the de facto positive right that has grown up around education?

If so, I very much agree, and its increasingly a positive right to an equal education rather than merely a decent education or a good education, as the sale of indulgences to expiate original sin white privilege finds more buyers than ever. Perfect world would be providing education as we provide food, with food stamps for the indigent, but I'm working with the conceivably doable here, indeed the done, that the reactionaries who shamelessly call themselves progressive are now turning back the clock on.

On the other hand, if you're inclined to think broadly equal education funding a good thing, on what grounds do you imagine such thinking will long content itself with remaining inside these borders? Would you be satisfied to be leveled down that far?

Then again, I get the sense that what horrifies you is the prospect of your fellow citizens making decisions regarding their own welfare, which would lead me to ask: what the hell are you doing on a libertarian blog?
4.7.2009 8:54am

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