The “Kansas Political Action Committee,” a group associated with the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA, the teachers union) has a questionnaire it asks candidates for the Kansas legislature to complete. After reading a few of these questions, it became clear to me that the questions are formulated to advance the interests of the teachers union and others wrapped up in — and profiting from — the public school bureaucracy and its monopoly on the use of state education funds.
Here’s a question they asked:
KNEA opposes private school vouchers or tuition tax credits. Such proposals will divert needed resources from public schools. KNEA believes that every child in Kansas deserves a quality public school.
Here’s what is wrong with this question: School choice programs like those mentioned in the question save states money!
Recently the The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released the study School Choice by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006. According to the executive summary: “Every existing school choice program is at least fiscally neutral, and most produce a substantial savings.”
How can this be? The teachers union and education bureaucrats would have us believe that vouchers would kill public education. That’s the premise of the question illustrated above: Such proposals will divert needed resources from public schools.
Here’s the answer, from the same study: “In nearly every school choice program, the dollar value of the voucher or scholarship is less than or equal to the state’s formula spending per student. This means states are spending the same amount or less on students in school choice programs than they would have spent on the same students if they had attended public schools, producing a fiscal savings.”
So at the state level, school choice programs save money. They don’t cost money to implement; they save money.
At the local level, schools districts have more money, on a per-student basis, when school choice programs are used: “When a student uses school choice, the local public school district no longer needs to pay the instructional costs associated with that student, but it does not lose all of its per-student revenue, because some revenue does not vary with enrollment levels. Thus, school choice produces a positive fiscal impact for school districts as well as for state budgets.”
Also, when schools are overcrowded, school choice programs can provide a way to solve this problem at no cost. This is illustrated in my article Will the Wichita Public School District Consider This Method of Reducing School Overcrowding? (The arithmetic of school choice in Wichita)
Why does the teachers union and Wichita school board ignore evidence like this? Whose interests are they looking out for?