Lurning To Kownt

Mr Darrell at the Bathtub announces that billions of dollars will be lost to public schools if vouchers get passed. 

Census data tells us that there are 3.1 million students of ages 5-13. Let’s grant that to increase to 5 million to end of high school. Billions? Is he expecting mass exodus? If 20% of those students left for private schools .. there’d be no place for them. Clue in, the private schools can take how many more kids … a tens of thousands at best. The only way that would amount to billions is if the vouchers were worth hundreds of thousands per, which isn’t the case.

I do like this objection too: 

This voucher scheme would send public tax dollars to private and religious schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers.

He much prefers that other school system which is unaccountable to parents.

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  1. Boonton says:

    I think the problem with most voucher proposals is that already existing private kids are automatically factored into the voucher with no corresponding increase in budgets….hence even if there’s absolutely no increase in private school enrollment public schools get an automatic cut.

    Unaccountable to parents? Odd given that most people are parents and schools are nearly entirely locally controlled……

    If vouchers are so great why their complete failure to get off the ground? Vast swaths of Super Red states have no trouble passing the most right wing of right wing laws about Obama’s birth certificate, illegal aliens, making women seeking abortions jump thru more hoops yet can’t adopt vouchers….. Are teachers unions really all that powerful?

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    What I said is that there is a surprise attack to steal money from public schools that educate children in poverty better than private schools.

    Regardless the total, that’s an immoral act. (But the House is looking at a $10 billion cut in education. It really is billions at risk, in addition to the morality of our state.)

    Come on over to the Bathtub, and see how sucking money out of public schools for private schools has been a disaster for kids in poverty, and for Texas.

    If sending public money to private elementary and secondary schools has never produced great benefits, and is not now working as well as spending the money in public schools in poor neighborhoods (like the great Moises Molina High School in southwest Dallas), why would we take more money to throw down the toilet? How could anybody hate Texas, America, and kids, so much?

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    How are Texas schools, or any public schools, not accountable to parents? Only if the parents don’t vote, don’t care, don’t ask, and don’t pay attention.

    We have 15,000 school districts in this nation. Each is governed locally, by a locally-elected board, or a board accountable to locally-elected officials (as in Chicago). Federal money is way under 10% of elementary and secondary education. 70% of the money for local schools comes directly from locally-levied and collected taxes.

    If those local institutions are not working, that’s an argument, perhaps, for a federal system. But it cannot be an argument against a federal system.

  4. Mark says:

    My point wasn’t to enter into a voucher/non-voucher argument … while I think more choice/market will help effective schooling I don’t know the best way to get there.

    Uhm, Ed. You said “billions of dollars.” That takes hundreds of thousands of students jumping to private schools. Private schools can’t take those numbers. So it isn’t billions. Calling it 10s of millions, billions, is innumerate.

    As far as accountability. Can you understand that voting is a less direct method of “accounting” than being able to select a vendor? You talk of the poor. So you’re a single parent with two jobs. Your school sucks. You tell that parent, oh, just vote your school board. That’s your only recourse. Go back to your ivory tower dude where you can pretend to care for the plight of the poor and people will commiserate with you.

  5. Boonton says:

    Well here’s the other way you get into trouble. Schools have a high fixed cost element and a relatively low variable cost element. This is why I think you have to take ‘per pupil’ costs with a big grain of salt. If you have a school that was originally built for 1,000 but now handles 500, you’re ‘per pupil cost’ will double simply because you’re dividing the physical plant over a smaller base. Quoting costs ‘per pupil’ give the misleading impression that adding more students would be very expensive or removing students would save money.

    Where this comes into play is a small voucher (say $3,000) that doesn’t really provide enough to cover most private schools will accomplish nothing more than causing a lot of upper-middle and middle class kids to leave since the voucher provides just enough funds to make the private school more affordable. The lower income kids, though, are left behind in a school that has been drained of funds because parents supposedly ‘choose’ to leave it.

    But if why are we doing this? If we are doing it to ‘fix’ education then we are upside down. Educational performance correlates nearly perfectly with class. Helping the higher income kids while harming the lower income ones only makes education’s problems worse. Middle income kids do pretty well in the public schools already. If it’s to provide ‘choice’, well you’re basically talking about a variation on socialism. In just about everything else you ‘choose’ based on your budget, not the taxpayers budget. Every parent already has all the choice in the world. If you want your kid to go to private school then choose to allocate your funds to that instead of to a larger house, a newer car, cable TV and so on. If I choose to join a private country club rather than enjoy the local park I don’t get a ‘voucher’ to offset that cost.

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    “Billions” was what Texas Freedom Network said (as I noted, I quoted them).

    Yes, Texas is that big, and yes, the grandiose dreams of destruction of public education among right-wing Texans are that big.

    School selection only works if you have schools on the shelf next to each other for “buyers” to choose from. Choice is impossible if transportation can’t be done. A poor kid south of the Trinity River in Dallas can’t get a bus that takes less than two hours to get to Hockaday. Choice is not choice if it’s only for the rich people in the big houses next door to the private school.

    Accountability means more than different colored boxes of detergent at the supermarket.

    By the way, in Texas parents can move kids to any public school in a district, or any nearby district if their kid’s school is not ranked at least satisfactory. Oddly, our school was gaining students when we were “unacceptable,” partly because of location, but mostly because no one can tell why. “Choice” is not accountability, and choice doesn’t work at the elementary and secondary levels of education. We have more than 400 schools in our district — isn’t that choice enough? Two of our high schools have been ranked in the top 10 in the nation in every ranking in the past five years. Our school outperforms them in several categories.

    “Choice” is a fog word, meaning nothing, but making big scares, in education.