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School Choice for New
What “choice” means and what it
We need fair approaches to
reduce costs yet maintain quality
of education in New York state.
Where does our money go? One
quarter of state budget to schools
K-12 cost – Highest in USA
Per US Census data in 2013:
Average per pupil spending - $10,300
New York - $19,818
We are 92% above the national
average! This does not include
Charter School –
according to Webster
“ a tax-supported school established
by a charter between a granting body
(as a school board) and an outside
group (as of teachers and parents)
which operates the school without
most local and state educational
regulations so as to achieve set goals”
If this is what New York really always
did, this is a reasonable approach
Charter School – The NY
In New York state, a “Charter” school
is often a privately run enterprise
which is selected and outsourced by
the STATE government.
While a cost savings may be realized,
this is NOT a school choice approach.
The parents are too uninvolved.
Opportunities for corruption, political
Vouchers: “Test Drive”
Choice should mean that parents can
immediately choose an option other than
Many states with vouchers require students
to start out in Public school: Arizona,
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah.
Motives? Witness testimonies? Vindictive?
Disruptive to students.
Vouchers – Performance
A voucher program which is triggered by
government based judgement of school
performance rather than to have parents make their
judgement is another opportunity for corruption:
– Political decisions can be made to offer voucher options for
either preferred districts, or in a vindictive manner to block
– Feedback loop for influence. Public sector employees
(teachers, administrators, etc.) at public schools will offer
campaign contributions and other forms of influence to
politicians in order to keep their public school off the
– “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.
Problem public schools will fail even more rapidly if these
districts are targeted with voucher programs.
College education costs have
increased at a pace triple the general
Many studies demonstrate a root
cause to be the ease and availability of
government grants and loans.
If allowed to charge as much as public
schools, private K-12 school tuition
prices will likewise rise rapidly
Broome County Catholic
Example (per month, x10
for full year):
Who decides suitability?
Government programs to judge which
private schools are suitable require
bureaucracy and cost.
There is again opportunity for bias,
corruption, and influence. Private schools
will try to buy their way into approval.
Let parents decide! It is in their interest to
see that their child attends a quality school,
whether private or public.
Commonly seen voucher
– Public school attendance requirement
– Performance based triggers
– Full value voucher will inflate private
– Suitability judgement should be in the
hands of parents, rather than to have
government micro-manage the private
Doing vouchers or a tax
credit program right:
No prerequisite for public school
Parents choose the school.
Universally applied, not based on poor
Graduated coverage to avoid inflationary
pressure. Some/most parents pay a portion
of cost, so that they continue to have an
interest in price.
Parental financial input
Perhaps a lottery system to where 20-30%
of any private school’s enrollment could be
100% voucher paid, for lowest income
Remaining enrollment, target for parents to
have 50% of cost, keep “skin in the game”
Highest income families? They pay high
property taxes. Still voucher eligible?
Worth a discussion.
Goal for New York
A slow and smooth increase of private
school usage, so as to limit cost inflation,
and a slow and smooth decrease in public
school attendance, so as to not have over-
sized buildings, excess staff (especially
administrative staff), or too small class
Quality observed and sustained by the
parents through market pressures, not by
What about homeschooling?
There is no concern about inflation.
Offer a lump sum credit per year to
help offset cost of lost wages, books,
Studies show homeschooled children
perform well. This won’t change if a
token amount is given back to the
Yeh but – Special needs children or
otherwise difficult to teach
Private schools tend to reject difficult
children, or so is the claim.
It’s about $$$$. Cost to teach special needs
children in public school is higher, so
voucher coverage for private school should
A pre-evaluator needs to be used to
benchmark students to see what added
costs there will be to teach them. Do this
cautiously to prevent corruption, cheating.