Wichita school bond issue: solve overcrowding this way

According to USD 259 (Wichita public school district) officials, one of the prime reasons a bond issue is needed in 2008 is that schools are overcrowded. New classrooms and new schools must be built, according to district officials, to solve this overcrowding problem.

This is another way to reduce overcrowding, and it won’t require spending any new money. In fact, the Wichita school district might even save money, and satisfaction with schools in Wichita will increase.

How can we do this? The State of Kansas and USD 259 can implement wide-spread school choice funded by vouchers and/or tax credits.

This may seem contrary to common sense at first. After all, one of the primary criticisms of school choice is that it “transfers precious tax dollars from public schools,” according to a national teachers union.

But facts don’t back up this claim. In 2007, The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation published a study titled “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.

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.”

In Wichita, if the school district would loosen its monopolistic grip on the use of public tax dollars for schools, some students would take advantage of a voucher or tax credit program and go to school somewhere else. These students that left the Wichita public schools would reduce or eliminate the overcrowding problem.

Yes, the Friedman Foundation advocates for school choice. It was Milton Friedman himself who promoted school choice as a way to solve problems with public schools. It’s an idea that is very popular with parents in the several places in America where school choice is in place. This is especially true with poor and minority families, as they have the most to gain from expanded choices in education.

Expanding school choice in Wichita through vouchers or tax credits would give parents greater control over their children’s education, and it would solve the overcrowding problem without spending many millions on new classrooms and schools.


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