New study analyzes fiscal impact of the nation's school choice programs

For Immediate Release
May 9, 2007

School choice has saved $444 million
New study analyzes fiscal impact of the nation's school choice programs

INDIANAPOLIS-A landmark new study finds that school choice programs throughout
the country generated nearly $444 million in net savings to state and local
budgets from 1990 to 2006. Contrary to opponents' predictions, the analysis also
finds that instructional spending per student has consistently gone up in all
affected public school districts and states.

"School choice saves. It saves children, and now we have empirical evidence that
it saves money," said Robert Enlow, executive director and COO of the Milton and
Rose D. Friedman Foundation. "In the face of $444 million in savings, another
excuse to deny children a quality education has vanished before our eyes."

Released by the Friedman Foundation, "Education by the Numbers: The Fiscal
Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006" provides the first comprehensive
analysis of how the nation's school choice programs have affected state and
public school districts. Of the 12 voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs
that began operations before 2006, every program is at least fiscally neutral,
and most produce substantial savings. Seven more programs have been created
since 2006.

"Programs giving parents freedom to choose in their child's education are
growing rapidly in number and size," said Dr. Susan Aud, author of the study and
a Friedman Foundation senior fellow. "And a program's fiscal impact has become
an important political issue. This brings empirical evidence to that debate."

For years, opponents have claimed that school choice reduces spending in public
schools. Yet the study's analysis of the states and school districts where
school choice is available finds that this is not the case. Instructional
spending in areas affected by school choice has uniformly increased.

"Opponents of educational freedom will find it tougher to bend the truth. Our
research adheres to the highest standards of scientific rigor," said Enlow.
"We've seen seven school choice programs start in just the last year because
evidence of the benefits are growing just as rapidly."

The Friedman Foundation has provided analysis to many states on the fiscal
effect of proposed school choice measures. Consistently, the studies - for
states like Arizona, New Hampshire, Utah, Virginia, Minnesota and Kentucky -
point to substantial savings.

The study can be downloaded at
Click here to see study


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I'm sure it does save money when you cut corners at the childrens' expense:

From an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel An investigation this June by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found problems in some voucher schools that

This is an interesting timeline.

School Choice Timeline

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler


Some voucher schools are well run. I disagree with the voucher program, but there's no denying that some schools are a success.

This is a bit OT, but I believe the academic success of charter schools would be impossible to maintain should ALL students be put into such a "system." My theory is simple:

The Rotten Apple Theory.
1. Studies have shown that charter schools pull students from all socioeconomic and academic backgrounds. That is, they're not just pulling the cream-skin.

2. These students, by and large, do as well or better in the charter school.

3. There is however a class of students, spread throughout the economic spectrum (but, i imagine, more densely backed in the lower income brackets), that get nothing but apathy from their parents. These are parents who--for many reasons, i'm sure--are not involved in the least bit in their childs education.

4. These kids, with the 'absent' parents (physically absent or otherwise) are the worst offenders in our public schools. A couple of teachers I've talked to agree with my assessment. Again, this has nothing to do with economics. A 'rich kid' with absent parents can fail just as easily as a poor kid with absent parents.

5. These kids are rotten apples. If you have one rotten apple in a bucket of apples, pretty soon, the rest of teh apples are rotten, too.

6. These kids--with apathetic parents--are by far the least likely to be proactive in seeking alternative schools.

7. Removing other kids from these rotten apples will, by and large, improve their academic performance at the new school.

8. If ALL students had to go to voucher schools, these rotten apples would be going to them, too.

9. Once this happens, they have the same effect in the charter system as they did in the public system.

Of course, this is just a hypothesis, but it seems pretty logical to me. It's really easy to run a school that's full of students with engaged parents. And to be aware of a problem at your childs school, research options, pull them out, and enroll in a charter school, you HAVE TO HAVE ENGAGED PARENTS. Once that starts to change, and once the charter school student body more closely resembles that of the public school it replaced, you're going to see many of the same-old problems.

I support charter schools. I just don't think we should be divesting money from public education to fund them. The notion that charter schools, like a magic fairy, could sprinkle pixie dust and make a better school is silly to me. And my cynicism has been reinforced recently with the revelation of the woefully inadequate teachers at some of these places.

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