Yahoo Finance recently reported that in spite of the recession, wealthy parents—those grossing more than $253,000—upped their education spending on their children. That spending included hefty private school tuition approaching $29,000, as well as private tutors charging more than $50 per hour. Wealthy public school parents are paying top dollar too:
Many families also pay a premium to live in top public school districts. Homes in top-rated school zones command a 32 percent premium over the national average, real estate data firm Trulia has found.
Some experts worry that education cannot be a great equalizer if the wealthy are able to spend more on a quality education for their children than middle- and lower-income families.
Rather than focusing on bringing the wealthy down, why not focus on policies that lift students from all families up?
More than 50 parental choice programs across the country now enroll more than 300,000 students. These programs include publicly-funded voucher scholarships, privately financed tax-credit scholarship programs, and two education savings account (ESA) programs in Arizona and Florida.
Participating students are overwhelmingly from low-income families, have special needs, or have other socioeconomic challenges. Yet parental choice programs empower parents to customize their children’s education options in way that yield better academic outcomes, including proficiency, graduation, and college attendance rates, at just a fraction of what it costs to educate those same students in traditional, assigned, public schools.
If education is to be the great equalizer, then we have to start with equal opportunity for all parents to choose the schools they think are best for their children.