TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

November 15, 2013

Going to bat for school choice would yield triple play for students, school districts and taxpayers

CORBIN — In the early days, school-choice opponents frequently got away with baseless allegations that usually carried some variation of the following theme: public charter schools and private school voucher and tax-credit programs are radical ideas that harm traditional public schools and fail to offer their students a better education.

Then the school-choice idea, which once was a child, grew into full adulthood.

Since Minnesota opened the nation’s first charter school in 1992, a mountain of gold-standard research grew up too, none — absolutely none — of which reports that public charter schools (yes, they are public schools) harm either their students or states’ education systems.

Naysayers still try to claim that allowing parents a choice of where to educate their children causes financial harm to traditional public schools. Yet such allegations are followed by deafening silence when their perpetrators are asked to provide evidence of such falsehood.

Not only is the resource argument without basis, the opposite is true.

According to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the nation’s growing number of private-school programs — including the kind of voucher and tax-credit platforms that allow low-opportunity students to gain a private school education — had, as of 2006, saved state budgets and local school districts nearly $444 million.

A soon-to-be-released update will doubtless disclose that number has grown exponentially — mirroring the proliferation of school-choice programs nationwide (but not yet in Kentucky). A hefty chunk of that growth is happening in neighboring Indiana, whose voucher program exploded — from 3,900 students the first year to more than 20,000 enrollees during this, its third year.

The program yielded $4 million in savings for Hoosier taxpayers during its first year alone.

Friedman also shows annual savings produced by private school-choice programs of $38 million for Florida and $47 million for Milwaukee’s longstanding and successful school-choice policy.

There’s every reason to believe that public charter schools would yield millions in savings annually for Kentucky’s school districts.

Understandably, there’s skepticism — even from believers. How, they wonder, does money “diverted” away from current public schools either to charter schools or, even more, to private schoolhouses, help school districts’ budgets?

The answer is easy and complex — all at the same time.

The easy part: If Kentucky passes charter-school legislation similar to the kind proposed in recent years, traditional public schools will be responsible for educating fewer students as some will be leave and enroll in charter schools. However, districts still will get much of the funding they would have received if those children had not transferred to another school. School districts actually can come out ahead financially.

The complex (not complicated) part: Three revenue streams comprised of local, state and federal dollars exist from which school districts receive funding for each of their students.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education’s receipts and expenditures report, districts during the 2012-13 received for each student $3,915 in local funding, $4,636 in state (SEEK) revenue and $1,422 in federal dollars. Include a few additional “miscellaneous” state dollars and Kentucky districts got $11,058 in total revenues per pupil last school year.

However, charter-school bills introduced during recent legislative sessions in Frankfort would allow for only the SEEK portion of the state dollars to “follow” students to charter schools.

This means that not only will parents be empowered to choose the best school for their children, but public-school districts will keep nearly 60 percent of current per-pupil revenues received for those students — even though they will no longer be responsible for educating them.

Empowering parents to choose; providing students trapped in mediocre or downright failing schools a better education; and public schools reaping economic benefits as they have fewer students to educate and more money to do it is a triple play worthy of the support of all Kentuckians and their elected representatives.  

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: It's been a very busy summer

    While a lot of people would expect the local sports scene to slow down in the Tri-County in the summer time, that’s not usually the case for us here at the Times-Tribune.

    July 16, 2014

  • John Ross.jpg May we all cherish those few WWII vets who still live

    I watch this old BBC program pretty often called “Are You Being Served?” It’s mostly out of syndication — what shows remain can be seen most often through PBS.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0502 Bobbie Poynter So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

    I never have been very good at saying goodbye — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community — for years you’ve had my back and in turn, I believe I’ve had yours.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie Ellis.jpg ‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

    One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Let’s multiply our numbers like fleas do

    Last Saturday, my wife, Carmen, and I spent the day at the Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Not an earthly trace

    Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846  when he arrived from Germany.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Col. Mustard with the candlestick in Heaven

    One of my favorite movies is the murder mystery comedy “Clue,” which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Now or Never

    A story is told of an old widower who decided it was time to find a new wife. He chose to look for this new bride through the obituaries column; identifying new widows.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide