Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vouchers -- The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs

It is time to start talking about vouchers. A few weeks ago Utah Policy.com had a link to the results of a study conducted by the Milton Friedman Foundation regarding the financial impact different voucher programs across the country. It was an interesting read. This study suggests that voucher programs in most areas have saved school districts money, and in districts that didn't experience savings those voucher systems have been revenue neutral.

The study is worth reading. I was going to take the time to do a thorough written analysis of the study, but I have since decided it would be better to recommend reading the study results for yourselves.

Yes, the study was conducted by the Friedman Foundation (a group that voucher adversaries like Craig at the Amicus would marginalize simply because Milton Friedman was a voucher advocate) however, as the study leader states in her introduction, the fact the group who produced the study supports vouchers shouldn't invalidate the scientific methods that were applied in reaching the end conclusion of the study.

Read it. This is a valuable piece in the voucher debate.


Jeremy said...

I've read the Friedman piece and I agree with you that it is a compelling argument in favor of vouchers. There are two problems with the study. 1. It is very optimistic about the number of people who will be moving out of our successful public school system and; 2. It fails to take into account the mitigation moneys built into the current voucher plan.

I'm against vouchers not because I have a personal stake in the battle...my kid attends an excellent public elementary school and her younger sisters will follow her through that institution over the next few years no matter what happens with vouchers. I'm against this as a tax payer because I just believe that many Utahns who aren't already planning on putting their kids in private schools are going to buy into this. Tuition to most private schools is substantially more than even the most generous voucher provides and our public schools have been turning out well educated kids for decades. Over time people will see that there isn't enough incentive to take the vouchers. If too few people opt out of the public system the plan becomes an expense...not an asset.

Vouchers are great in a broken school system but in a place like Utah they seem to be nothing more than a subsidy for those who have already opted out of our successful public school system...and a waste of money for taxpayers.

Jeremy said...

Correction to paragraph 2 of my comment:

"I'm against this as a taxpayer because I don't believe that there are enough Utahns who aren't already planning on putting their kids in private schools who are going to buy into this."

Sorry about that :-)

pramahaphil said...

"2. It fails to take into account the mitigation moneys built into the current voucher plan."

That is a decent point. I would guess that Friedman would have been opposed to the mitigation money, and I would argue the voucher system would be more fiscally beneficial without the mitigation money. However, you and I both realize the bill wouldn't have never passed the legislature without that compromise piece in the bill.

I'm not sure whether your right or wrong about the degree to which Utah parents will flock to vouchers, but I can respect your arguments against vouchers.

pramahaphil said...

P.S. If the public school system in Utah ain't broken, than why do we have requests that we need more money to fix it each and every year.

Just a thought