A new report from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice finds that publicly-funded voucher scholarships programs expand education options for students and have saved taxpayers close to $2 billion:
For the 10 school vouchers programs examined in this report, a cumulative total savings of at least $1.7 billion has been realized since 1990-91, the first year of the historic Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), through 2010-11, the end of this paper’s review period. During that same timeframe, participation in school voucher programs grew from 300 students to nearly 70,000, an increase of over 230 times.
The report also documents the fact that public schools continue to receive taxpayer funding for students they don’t education when those students use voucher scholarships to attend private schools instead. But the county’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA) still opposes vouchers—and basically any other form of parental choice in education. As California Teachers Empowerment Network President Larry Sand explains in Union Watch:
The National Education Association website has a bullet-pointed page dedicated to its case against vouchers. The “information” posted is flawed. … Its “social case” is downright silly.
A voucher lottery is a terrible way to determine access to an education. True equity means the ability for every child to attend a good school in the neighborhood.
Lotteries are indeed horrible for the losers. But using this argument in 1912, NEA would probably have said, “Since we can’t save everyone on the Titanic, let’s make everyone stay on board and go down with the ship.” The best way to eliminate lotteries is to make vouchers universal. The resulting uptick in private schools would eventually give all kids the opportunities they deserve.
And NEA’s “legal case” is flat out wrong. The claim here is that:
Vouchers tend to be a means of circumventing the Constitutional prohibitions against subsidizing religious practice and instruction.
In the 2002 Zelman v. Simmons-Harris decision, the Supreme Court ruled that because financial aid goes to parents and not the school, vouchers are indeed constitutional.
The union’s “political landscape” claim is beyond laughable.
Despite desperate efforts to make the voucher debate about “school choice” and improving opportunities for low-income students, vouchers remain an elitist strategy.
Elitist?! Rich folks don’t need a few thousand bucks from the government to send their children to a private school. Those kids get to go anyway. It’s the middle and lower income people who need and benefit most from vouchers.
One more bit of information for NEA and other hidebound monopolists: vouchers don’t hurt public education. As I have stressed many times, competition works in education – just as it does everywhere else. Vouchers typically make public schools better. In fact, Greg Foster’sanalysis shows that,
Twenty-three empirical studies (including all methods) have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools. (Emphasis added.)
And lastly, something else that is missing from the NEA website is the fact that teachers – especially good ones – can make more money in places where choice is available. Just last week, a report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation found that teachers’ salaries would increase if states would introduce school choice. Where there is competition, quality is rewarded.