The shallow arguments against school choice

There are public policy questions that are difficult.  Health insurance, for example.

Then there are those that are extremely simple although highly contested by those with axes to grind.

School choice is one of the easiest.

Vouchers do one thing: they give poor kids trapped in failing government schools the same option more affluent children have available.

With a voucher, they can move to a school that will give them an education.

It may involve the family spending money out of pocket, because vouchers typically are for less than the cost of government schooling.  That is why they represent millions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers.

But, contrary to what opponents seem to think, poor people are willing to make sacrifices for their children.

What vouchers do not do is "drain money from the government schools" as opponents claim.

Schools are funded on a per-pupil basis.  If a rich family withdraws a child from a government school and moves him to a private school, the money follows the child.  It still pays for his education.  The government school benefits two ways.  It is less crowded, and the competition for the child, as studies have shown, can result in the government school improving its performance.

Opponents often use the ridiculous argument that fixed costs remain for the school system.  But it doesn't work that way.  You can't claim that it costs more to add children and then claim that it costs more when you remove children.

Other arguments are just as shallow.  One talking point circulated among opponents is that studies show that charter or private schools are no better.  Ridiculous for two reasons.  One is that only a couple of studies show this, while many others show the opposite.

The other reason is that it does not matter.  Students don't attend averages; they attend schools.  There are good private schools and bad ones, just like government schools.  Students in a school where they are learning nothing cannot be any worse off, and it is highly unlikely that a parent would move the child into another failing school.  But they are entitled to a choice, just like the parents of politicians and other affluent people.

More and more Democrats are acknowledging that black parents support vouchers and are falling in line.  The last holdouts are the biggest donors to liberal causes, the teacher union bosses.

It is all about the money.  Liberal politicians vote more money for schools, despite any evidence that it will improve educational outcomes.  Schools hire more teachers and give raises.  That puts more money in the union coffers, and the unions pour more money into the campaigns of liberal politicians.

Forgotten in this cozy arrangement are the kids.  They drop out or are passed upward, given a diploma, and thrown into the workplace or into college.  In Florida, more than half of the high school graduates are not able to read and write at college-entry level.

Why not let them get an education?

There are public policy questions that are difficult.  Health insurance, for example.

Then there are those that are extremely simple although highly contested by those with axes to grind.

School choice is one of the easiest.

Vouchers do one thing: they give poor kids trapped in failing government schools the same option more affluent children have available.

With a voucher, they can move to a school that will give them an education.

It may involve the family spending money out of pocket, because vouchers typically are for less than the cost of government schooling.  That is why they represent millions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers.

But, contrary to what opponents seem to think, poor people are willing to make sacrifices for their children.

What vouchers do not do is "drain money from the government schools" as opponents claim.

Schools are funded on a per-pupil basis.  If a rich family withdraws a child from a government school and moves him to a private school, the money follows the child.  It still pays for his education.  The government school benefits two ways.  It is less crowded, and the competition for the child, as studies have shown, can result in the government school improving its performance.

Opponents often use the ridiculous argument that fixed costs remain for the school system.  But it doesn't work that way.  You can't claim that it costs more to add children and then claim that it costs more when you remove children.

Other arguments are just as shallow.  One talking point circulated among opponents is that studies show that charter or private schools are no better.  Ridiculous for two reasons.  One is that only a couple of studies show this, while many others show the opposite.

The other reason is that it does not matter.  Students don't attend averages; they attend schools.  There are good private schools and bad ones, just like government schools.  Students in a school where they are learning nothing cannot be any worse off, and it is highly unlikely that a parent would move the child into another failing school.  But they are entitled to a choice, just like the parents of politicians and other affluent people.

More and more Democrats are acknowledging that black parents support vouchers and are falling in line.  The last holdouts are the biggest donors to liberal causes, the teacher union bosses.

It is all about the money.  Liberal politicians vote more money for schools, despite any evidence that it will improve educational outcomes.  Schools hire more teachers and give raises.  That puts more money in the union coffers, and the unions pour more money into the campaigns of liberal politicians.

Forgotten in this cozy arrangement are the kids.  They drop out or are passed upward, given a diploma, and thrown into the workplace or into college.  In Florida, more than half of the high school graduates are not able to read and write at college-entry level.

Why not let them get an education?