Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What are voucher opponents really afraid of?

When I was a small child, I was afraid of many things. I was afraid of the monster under my bed. I was afraid of the scary images in my closet. As I got older and wiser, I realized that there really wasn't a monster under my bed and that the scary images in my closet were really just my clothes hanging in different ways.
So this brings me to my big question of the day. What are school voucher opponents really afraid of? They can't be afraid of losing money, because as LaVarr Webb pointed out in his column on Sunday, public schools would have more money per student than they do today. In his column he mentions that the "legislative fiscal analyst estimates that the voucher program could pay out $429 million over 13 years if all qualified voucher students use the program. But it would mean we would not have to spend $1.8 billion for those students in the public school system." Now I'm not a math major, but I learned early on in my public school life that 429,000,000 is a smaller number than 1,800,000,000. So why can't voucher opponents do such simple math?
Come on voucher opponents, what are you afraid of? Does the thing you are afraid of make as much sense as being afraid of the monster under my bed, or are they just in your imagination, like the scary images in my closet?


Tim said...

Maybe they are afraid of a legislature that has systematically and intentionally witheld resources while strangling them with over-regulation that is second only to the US tax code. Competition INDEED. Look a little closer and you will see that the ONE thing this does not give us is competition.

Thad said...

The regulation I hear the most complaint about is "No Child Left Behind". That is a federal regulation and most other states seem to do ok with it. Now at this point your going to cry "but other states have smaller class sizes and better funding." To this I reply, "prove it." I've spent the past year traveling to several other states. People in all of those states told me that their children had about 30 students per teacher.
So again, if you do the math, the state legislature is trying to give public schools more money per child and the public schools don't want it. This doesn't make sense to me.

Jeremy said...

For a good in-depth primer on the misleading nature of Webb's claim check out Frank Staheli's blog post and the comments on the same topic.


The vast majority of students who receive vouchers will be students from families who never would have gone to public schools in the first place. We aren't saving anything when we subsidize their private school tuition.

The Impartial Analysis published by the legislature as part of the 2007 voter information packet contains a more complete version of the analysis done by the legislative fiscal analyst. The data presented makes it pretty clear that vouchers wouldn't represent any savings whatsoever to taxpayers or any significant amount of new public education funding. Webb didn't give you the whole story.

Thad said...

You are making an assumption, Jeremy. You are assuming that there won't be lots of people who take the vouchers and take their child out of public schools. Please tell me why you can make that assumption. Stating "look at how many people are in private schools, now" doesn't allow you to make that assumption. Look at the success of charter schools. I believe if you give people a monetary incentive to attend a private school, there are several who are currently in public schools who will switch. Thus you will see more money per student going to public schools. It's simple math. The type of math I learned in a public elementary school.

Jeremy said...

I'm only making the same assumption that was made by the legislative fiscal analyst who was tasked with estimating the most likely scenario which will take place if this bill is passed. There just doesn't seem to be sufficient potential demand to support your contention that there will be enough switchers to generate the savings to offset the expense of this new welfare entitlement for those who never would have put their kids in public schools in the first place.

Wow...that last sentence was too long. I guess I should have listened better to my public school english teachers!!!