As reported in my post Moving Kansas schools from monopoly to free choice, the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy has recently reported how school choice programs could give Kansas a better return on its education dollar. Here’s some additional evidence that Kansas is missing out on an opportunity.
Two years ago 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 school spending lobby and the teachers unions would have us believe that vouchers would kill public education. They say that school choice program drain scarce resources from the public school system.
But when researchers looked at the actual effects, they found this: “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)