Friday, October 05, 2007

Vouchers -- Financial Analysis "Its About the Money"

This is a revision of the post I wrote last night.

Yesterday I was reading some comments at Steve Urquhart's blog and I noticed there seems to be confusion on how much savings there will or will not be from voucher implementation. I spent some time last night writing a spreadsheet model based on certain assumptions (no currently attending private school students could receive vouchers, only students switching from public to private, out of state move ins, and new kindergartners will receive vouchers -- 100% savings per voucher issued) however I realize a large flaw with my assumption due to the fact that many new students (out of state move ins, and new kindergartners) many not have ever gone to public schools without vouchers. As far as my calculations go I don't really see any circumstances where there would not be a net financial benefit to public schools because of voucher implementation, however I haven't figured out how to account for the money that isn't saved due to voucher receiving students who never would have attended public school without vouchers. I would like some help making the model as accurate as possible -- if interested in collaborating or if you just want to access the spreadsheet please email me. If anyone knows how to make a Google spreadsheet open for anyone to view and alter please tell me. The idea with the spreadsheet is that anyone can alter the variables and see the net effect on savings from those changes.

I believe vouchers provide a powerful means of increasing per student spending in state of Utah. By allowing parents the right to take a portion of the money the state was going to spend on their kids for education elsewhere, the remaining funds can be stretched to help increase per student spending on the kids that stay in public school.

I also believe giving taxpayers the right to determine how their tax dollars are used to educate their children is the right move. I don't believe the one size fits all model of education for which most public schools operate is best for all Utah children. Charter schools are a fantastic asset to the state's educational menu. Vouchers provide another menu item for parents to tailor how best to meet the educational needs of their children. Vouchers also can save money for public schools to improve education for public school children.

Utah's public schools are great, I am product of them and I pretty sure that most of my children will be schooled in public school as well. However I believe vouchers are a worthy experiment that can help improve Utah education in many aspects.


Part of the Plan said...

I've seen a lot of arguments both for and against vouchers based on the premise "vouchers will help/hurt public schools." None of them, including yours, have changed my mind. If Utah's public education system is so bad, why do we graduate so many smart kids who go on to college and have successful careers? What are we trying to fix with vouchers?

I've heard it's all about providing parental choice. Sorry, but that already exists. If you don't want your children learning about evolution, then send them to whatever private school suits your fancy. Just don't expect me to fund it, please.

But Ed, I've been told, we need to help low-income parents who otherwise can not afford private schools. Oh really? And why is that? What makes this anything other than a government entitlement program that benefits someone else other than me? And if it is supposed to help low-income parents, why would it be structured to even provide assistance to millionaires? (Wait, no I remember...the authors of this bill are fat-cat Republican lawyers, bankers and property developers who comprise the legislature).

This program is not about "helping" public education by providing more money to educate fewer kids. It's first and foremost an effort by the Republican legislature to punish the despised UEA, the state's largest union. Secondly, it's a thinly-disguised attempt to eliminate public education altogether. That's the ultimate dream of the bill's supporters. As Paul Mero so wistfully relates, let's return Utah's education system to the way it was in the mid-1800's.

Sorry, but it's all about the kids, not the money. As an accountant, I'm sure that's a shocking thing for you to accept, but you should. The sooner everyone understands the hidden agendas behind the voucher movement, the sooner we achieve consensus on why it is such a bad idea for Utah's kids.

BTW the correct link to my blog is

Part of the Plan said...

FWIW, the previous comment was made to the original post, not the revised one.

Jeremy said...

The Legislative Fiscal Analyst did some research following roughly the same path as you have. You should check out the "Impartial Analysis" published by the legislature in this year's voter information packet.

There aren't many specifics available about the data they used to come up with their published analysis but they anticipate this program costing hundreds of millions of dollars more than is saved by switchers.

If you want opposing data to what the legislative fiscal analyst put out I've heard that the Utah Taxpayer's Association is planning on publishing their own analysis. Although they support my opposition to vouchers I have to admit that I'm not completely sold on the "Impartial Analysis" numbers. That said, I still don't believe there will be enough switchers over time to compensate for the costs generated by subsidizing kids who never would have gone to public schools.

I also agree with Ed's contention that public schools should be financed by taxpayers because we all benefit from an educated populace. Subsidies for those who want to "upgrade" to private schools shouldn't be something taxpayers are burdened with. It just isn't right. The whole idea of being forced to support a new private school in Hilsdale with my tax dollars doesn't sit well with me.

rmwarnick said...

On their website, PCE makes the claim that the voucher system will save $1 billion. They make the debatable assumption that each student who switches from public to private school will save $5500 a year. Let's also assume for the sake of argument that all the money saved will go to fund public education.

To save $1 billion, 180,000 students will have to switch. That's one-third of all the K-12 students in Utah's public schools. It is also more than ten times the number of students now in Utah private schools.

Doesn't seem likely, especially because the maximum $3,000 voucher amount won't cover tuition except at Catholic schools that are full and seldom accept non-Catholics anyway.

pramahaphil said...

Alright. First off sorry Ed about the Dreck I wrote earlier, I wrote on little sleep and in rant mode. I should have slept on it but I puiblished it and had nightmares about it.

I'm going to publish the google spreadsheet under the following login:

Username: Green Jello
Password: pramahaphil

It is still a work in progress. I hope to work heavily on it next week and by next weeks end spread the analysis out the full thriteen years that the legislative fiscal analyst does. Play with it. I hope it becomes a useful tool in analyzing the supposed savings I believe vouchers will create

pramahaphil said...

username Green_Jello

pramahaphil said...

Sorry, I really thought I could get Green_Jello as the user name. Thats what happens when you assume.

The real actual username is......