Is Educational Choice Conservative?

 

School ChoiceYesterday, Texas lawmakers held hearings about expanding educational choice in the Lone Star State. Perhaps the most prominent proposal was an education savings account (ESA), which would allow families to take a portion of the state funds that would have been spent on their child in their assigned district school and instead use them on private school tuition, tutoring, text books, online courses, homeschool materials, and more. Parents could roll over unused funds from year to year to save for later educational expenses, including college. Because ESAs offer spending flexibility and the ability to save–which creates an incentive to economize–they are an improvement on traditional school vouchers.

However, a Republican member of the State Board of Education, Thomas Ratliff, offered the following objection to the proposed ESAs:

“It is nothing more than a huge handout with no way to control the price tag — hardly a conservative idea,” Ratliff said.

He noted that it takes $8,500 of taxpayer money per student per year just to provide basic support, not counting buildings and equipment. To come from one family, the family either would have to have a $700,000 home or spend $120,000 a year on items subject to sales tax, Ratliff said.

“There are no savings in these accounts,” he said. “There are donations from the elderly couple next door that has no kids and from the local business down the street that pays their property tax.”

Of course, if you follow the logic, this is really an argument against public schooling, period. A low-income family with two kids isn’t paying enough taxes to cover their per-pupil expenditures at their assigned district school. And it’s not like the state is controlling the number of children who are born in Texas or move to the state, so the price tag is just as “unfettered” as the ESA. Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

In fact, taxpayers do save money from the ESAs. ESAs grant parents only a portion of the state funds that would have been spent on their child at his or her assigned district school, and they include none of the federal or local funding. That means the “elderly couple next door” and “local business down the street” are spending much less per pupil on ESA students than they otherwise would have.

I don’t know what Mr. Ratliff thinks is a “conservative idea,” but a program that expands educational opportunity, empowers families, provides market alternatives to a moribund government bureaucracy, improves performance, and saves money while doing so sounds pretty conservative to me.

There are 31 comments.

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  1. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Jason Bedrick: Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

    Would that really be so bad?

    Although I’m not sure I understand the objection made: if we set money aside per pupil anyway, why not allow that money to be spent by the pupil’s parents instead of the school district?

    After all who’s more likely to have the pupil’s best interests in mind?

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Austin Murrey:

    Jason Bedrick: Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

    Would that really be so bad?

    Although I’m not sure I understand the objection made: if we set money aside per pupil anyway, why not allow that money to be spent by the pupil’s parents instead of the school district?

    After all who’s more likely to have the pupil’s best interests in mind?

    My idea for schools is 100% voucherization. Phase out the whole system, and let private schools compete for the kids. The more kids, the more money. If a kid is certified with special needs, then a bigger voucher.

    • #2
  3. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Yes just abolish public education.  There are some really good public schools sell them or turn them over to the teachers and let them compete.  If we want to subsidize low income families, send them a check or a voucher.   The one thing we must not do is leave the public school system in the hands of the Federal and state education bureaucracies and the teachers unions.   Good teachers and parents know which teachers are good.   Give them real choice and they will sort it out.  Markets actually work everywhere they are tried.  Top down central control does not work anywhere.   So we insist on public education and healthcare because it is so important?    This isn’t conservative it’s just obvious common sense and the opposite, what we do now, is insane.

    • #3
  4. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Austin Murrey:

    Jason Bedrick: Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

    Would that really be so bad?

    Although I’m not sure I understand the objection made: if we set money aside per pupil anyway, why not allow that money to be spent by the pupil’s parents instead of the school district?

    After all who’s more likely to have the pupil’s best interests in mind?

    My idea for schools is 100% voucherization. Phase out the whole system, and let private schools compete for the kids. The more kids, the more money. If a kid is certified with special needs, then a bigger voucher.

    Well it could hardly be worse than the current Prussian Jawohl, Mein Lehrer! system.

    • #4
  5. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    As a homeschooler, I do not want a penny of money from either the state or my local district.

    I would reject it, even if the state/district promised not to interfere with my educational choices and control.

    The district views homeschoolers and those sending their children to non-district schools as taking money away from their pensions already. I can only imagine that this type of program would actually further bloat the obscene amounts that school districts spend anyway, in tax and state and federal funds.

    I can understand the representative’s objections.

    • #5
  6. Dad of Four Inactive
    Dad of Four
    @DadofFour

    I see it as conservative in at least three ways.

    1. It provides the most choice for consumer of the services and lets them make their decision based on their specific values and circumstances.
    2. It creates competition among the providers, including public schools to improve and match what they offer their local families.
    3. It removes power from the beauracy; both in terms of control and in terms of paid positions.

    My guess is that the stated objection comes more from the shift in power away from Mr. Ratliff’s position on the state board of education than it comes from his conservative principles.

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    In California and Massachusetts, in the 1990s, in order for the teachers’ unions to go along with the charter school and school choice initiatives, towns had to actually pay the school that the student was exiting for the exit. In other words, schools actually made money from school choice. I don’t know what the situation is now, but that’s how it was at first. This was a crazy injustice to everyone involved.

    • #7
  8. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    Austin Murrey:

    Jason Bedrick: Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

    Would that really be so bad?

    Although I’m not sure I understand the objection made: if we set money aside per pupil anyway, why not allow that money to be spent by the pupil’s parents instead of the school district?

    After all who’s more likely to have the pupil’s best interests in mind?

    To be clear, I think moving to an entirely private system, as Milton Friedman advocated, would be a significant improvement over the status quo. I was just expressing amazement that a member of the state board of education didn’t realize that his argument against ESAs applied equally to public schooling generally.

    • #8
  9. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:As a homeschooler, I do not want a penny of money from either the state or my local district.

    I would reject it, even if the state/district promised not to interfere with my educational choices and control.

    The district views homeschoolers and those sending their children to non-district schools as taking money away from their pensions already. I can only imagine that this type of program would actually further bloat the obscene amounts that school districts spend anyway, in tax and state and federal funds.

    I can understand the representative’s objections.

    More power to you! I’m happy to see homeschoolers who don’t want a dime from the state. But I also recognize that moving from a system in which 90% of students attend government schools to a market-based system in which there is a wide variety of educational options will take some sort of policy change. As Milton Friedman once said:

    “Remember vouchers are a means not an end. The purpose of vouchers is to enable parents to have free choice, and the purpose of having free choice is to provide competition and allow the educational industry to get out of the 17th century and get into the 21st century and have more innovation and more evolvement.”

    • #9
  10. EdPolaski Inactive
    EdPolaski
    @EdPolaski

    I’m not familiar with the details of the Texas system, but, based on AZ’s, I don’t think the idea of rich people getting tax credits (even if by swapping with friends through tuition orgs) to pull their kids out of perfectly good public schools to send them to private schools is necessarily a perfectly conservative idea.

    • #10
  11. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    EdPolaski:I’m not familiar with the details of the Texas system, but, based on AZ’s, I don’t think the idea of rich people getting tax credits (even if by swapping with friends through tuition orgs) to pull their kids out of perfectly good public schools to send them to private schools is necessarily a perfectly conservative idea.

    Ed, you’re talking about a different program. That’s a tax-credit scholarship. The program discussed above is an education savings account. (FTR, Arizona has both.)

    As for the tax credits, there are a few programs in AZ. One is limited to low-income students and relies on corporate donations. Another is for students with special needs. The one you’re referring to has no income cap and any individual can donate to it. By law, donors can specify a school but they may *not* earmark individual students. (I’m aware that it happens, but it shouldn’t.)

    But as to your last point, who gets to determine whether the assigned district school is a “perfectly good” fit for a student or not? Should that be some bureaucrat? Or the parents? I think a conservative would want to empower the parents. No one school, no matter how high performing on average, is the best fit for all the kids who just happen to live nearby. (Moreover, the district schools are legally prevented from teaching about religion and morality, which many conservative parents believe are central to education.) Finally, the tax credits save a great deal of money, since the scholarship amounts are far below the per-pupil expenditures at the district schools.

    So again, we have a program that empowers parents, provides market alternatives to the government, and saves money. Seems pretty conservative.

    • #11
  12. EdPolaski Inactive
    EdPolaski
    @EdPolaski

    Jason Bedrick:Ed, you’re talking about a different program.

    I re-read the article and now see the “or” between the tax credit and ESA discussion. Apologies for the lazy reading.

    Jason Bedrick:

    By law, donors can specify a school but they may *not* earmark individual students. (I’m aware that it happens, but it shouldn’t.

    Student designations are allowed, they just can’t be the sole basis for the award, but that happens all the time.

    Jason Bedrick:

    But as to your last point, who gets to determine whether the assigned district school is a “perfectly good” fit for a student or not? ….Finally, the tax credits save a great deal of money, since the scholarship amounts are far below the per-pupil expenditures at the district schools.

    I don’t have a system in mind, but if we were having a beer I’d tell you the school names applicable in my orbit and I’d think you’d agree they’re perfectly fine.

    Tax credits save money in the accounting sense (important – don’t mean to diminish), but in terms of effectiveness of dollars spent, without an income limitation it shifts dollars from schools where the kids need it more to schools where the kids need it less (because the marginal cost of educating a kid at a public school is obviously less than what the state sends that way).

    Again, apologies for distracting based on my mis-read. Appreciate the post.

    • #12
  13. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Agree with the OP’s opinion.

    But in my view, the real story here is our collective ignorance of who really pays taxes in the US.

    Since Texas is already forking over the $8,500 per pupil, and only a taxpayer with a $700,000+ house is paying at least that much in taxes annually, you don’t need a higher degree in math to realize that a very small number of Texan taxpayers must be paying for the lion’s share of the state’s expenses.

    And of course, actual analyses have demonstrated this point countless times: the top 10% of taxpayers supply the vast majority of public funds, both at the state and federal levels.

    We have managed to work ourselves into a system in which most taxpayers don’t come close to paying for their own benefits, yet still complain of being brutally overtaxed. That is not healthy.

    • #13
  14. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:As a homeschooler, I do not want a penny of money from either the state or my local district.

    I would reject it, even if the state/district promised not to interfere with my educational choices and control.

    The district views homeschoolers and those sending their children to non-district schools as taking money away from their pensions already. I can only imagine that this type of program would actually further bloat the obscene amounts that school districts spend anyway, in tax and state and federal funds.

    I can understand the representative’s objections.

    Then there is the other aspect…  He who pays the piper call the tune.  If you receive $$ from the State, the State is going to tell you how you have to use it.  this is one of the issues I have with Federal block grants to the states.  The states don’t get to choose what to do with the money.

    • #14
  15. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Mendel:Agree with the OP’s opinion.

    But in my view, this lawmaker’s comment is also a reflection on our ignorance of who really pays taxes in the US.

    Since Texas is already forking over the $8,500 per pupil, and only a taxpayer with a $700,000 house or more is paying at least that much in taxes, you don’t need a higher degree in math to realize that a very small number of Texan taxpayers must be paying for the lion’s share of the state’s expenses.

    And of course, actual analyses have demonstrated this point countless times: the top 10% of taxpayers supply the vast majority of public funds.

    We have managed to work ourselves into a system in which most taxpayers don’t come close to paying for their own benefits, yet still complain of being brutally overtaxed.

    Texas doesn’t have an income tax, it has property taxes so everyone who lives here pays in to the State (and County’s) education funds.

    Taxes are generally factored into apartment rent too, so even the poor pay into that fund. So education here works like, in theory, Obamacare works – we all pay a set amount into the pool and the parents take money out of the pool by enrolling their children in schools.

    Everyone in the state who pays for a roof over their head has skin in the game in other words.

    But you’re right in the fact that per pupil spending does not match the expenditure of funds from the average parent in Texas.

    • #15
  16. Von Snrub Member
    Von Snrub
    @VonSnrub

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Austin Murrey:

    Jason Bedrick: Is a member of the State Board of Education really arguing that the state of Texas should stop funding district schools?

    Would that really be so bad?

    Although I’m not sure I understand the objection made: if we set money aside per pupil anyway, why not allow that money to be spent by the pupil’s parents instead of the school district?

    After all who’s more likely to have the pupil’s best interests in mind?

    My idea for schools is 100% voucherization. Phase out the whole system, and let private schools compete for the kids. The more kids, the more money. If a kid is certified with special needs, then a bigger voucher.

    Oh Man, does this sound like an awful idea. Poor neighborhoods will still be terrible. I really don’t see how vouchers will fix the problem?

    • #16
  17. Von Snrub Member
    Von Snrub
    @VonSnrub

    From a small life time in the public school system, I don’t see how any solution addresses the problem of disinterested cultures sending their children to free baby sitting. The reason there’s so little change on this front is most middle class to upper class neighborhoods are happy enough with their school system. The ghetto schools will continue to be terrible because nobody cares. For that matter, the teacher’s that are willing to teach there tend to be bleeding hearts or terrible because it’s a completely thankless job.

    • #17
  18. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    EdPolaski: Student designations are allowed, they just can’t be the sole basis for the award, but that happens all the time.

    This is a raging debate among the AZ scholarship orgs. (FTR, I live in AZ and know the players.) One side is right and one is wrong. It’s true that the AZ law itself is silent on the matter, but federal law is clear: charitable donations to 501c3 organizations *cannot* be earmarked to individual recipients like that.

    EdPolaski: I don’t have a system in mind, but if we were having a beer I’d tell you the school names applicable in my orbit and I’d think you’d agree they’re perfectly fine.

    Not necessarily. For example, no district school works for my kids because I want them in a Jewish school. But even for parents who want a secular education, the school down the block with the high test scores and friendly staff still might not be the right fit for little Johnny or Suzie.

    EdPolaski: Tax credits save money in the accounting sense (important – don’t mean to diminish), but in terms of effectiveness of dollars spent, without an income limitation it shifts dollars from schools where the kids need it more to schools where the kids need it less (because the marginal cost of educating a kid at a public school is obviously less than what the state sends that way).

    Actually, we have a lot of random-assignment research (the gold standard in social science) showing that school choice programs improve performance. There’s also very little evidence that resources are a driving factor in performance. And finally, more than two-dozen studies find modest but statistically significant positive effects for *district* schools in response to the additional competition that school choice programs foster.

    See here: https://www.edchoice.org/research/win-win-solution/

    EdPolaski: Again, apologies for distracting based on my mis-read. Appreciate the post.

    No apologies necessary, and I appreciate you engaging with me!

    • #18
  19. EdPolaski Inactive
    EdPolaski
    @EdPolaski

    Jason Bedrick:This is a raging debate among the AZ scholarship orgs. (FTR, I live in AZ and know the players.) One side is right and one is wrong. It’s true that the AZ law itself is silent on the matter, but federal law is clear: charitable donations to 501c3 organizations *cannot* be earmarked to individual recipients like that.

    Not really a disagreement, but note that DOR guidelines say donations can be designated for a specific student. (but STOs can’t use that as sole basis for award).

    Jason Bedrick:

    Not necessarily. For example, no district school works for my kids because I want them in a Jewish school. But even for parents who want a secular education, the school down the block with the high test scores and friendly staff still might not be the right fit for little Johnny or Suzie.

    Agree, but that’s just not the standard I apply for what the state should pay for. If you don’t like, say, your local Kyrene elementary school or any of the charter alternatives, and you can afford a private school, I don’t think anyone should get a tax credit for paying your kid’s private school tuition. That’s really the entirety of my point.  And it’s also based largely on 2016 budget and education realities – in a more perfect world, I might feel differently.

    • #19
  20. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    My wife homeschools 2 of our kids.  I worry about the strings that would be attached to an ESA program that would provide money to homeschoolers.

    Such strings would be understandable and justifiable.  If the state were to pay a parent, say, $5,000 to $6,000 per child to “homeschool,” there is a risk that some (bad) parents would pull their kids out of school, not educate them at all, and pocket the money.  This would not apply to my family or the many homeschoolers that we know, who are already giving their kids great educations with no state help at all.  But it is a risk.

    It could be made to work, if the requirements were limited to something like a standardized achievement test.

    There is also a legitimate conservative concern about cost.  The extent of the additional cost would depend on the percentage of students already in private school or homeschooling, receiving no government aid.

    • #20
  21. Kwhopper Inactive
    Kwhopper
    @Kwhopper

    Maybe treat public education funding like we treat public roads: use public money to build only the buildings. Anything that goes on inside the school – supplies, furniture, salaries – is decided on and paid by individual parents that want to send their kids there.

    I know in our district they recently built a “state of the art” new high school building for upwards of $80 million financed with bonds. I’m in Missouri for pete’s sake. We don’t have a cost of living issue such that a school should cost that much. But, my point is most bonds and such go to build infrastructure initially anyway and that’s where a lot my property tax will go. We limit it to infrastructure and perhaps at least what goes on inside the buildings can be competitive.

    • #21
  22. doulalady Member
    doulalady
    @doulalady

    As a home schooling parent I wouldn’t have taken any government money. It would have been helpful, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

    However it warmed the cockles of my heart to know that the school district was losing over $30,000 a year because I took my kids away from them. Does that make me evil?

    • #22
  23. 6foot2inhighheels Member
    6foot2inhighheels
    @6foot2inhighheels

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:As a homeschooler, I do not want a penny of money from either the state or my local district.

    I would reject it, even if the state/district promised not to interfere with my educational choices and control.

    The district views homeschoolers and those sending their children to non-district schools as taking money away from their pensions already. I can only imagine that this type of program would actually further bloat the obscene amounts that school districts spend anyway, in tax and state and federal funds.

    I can understand the representative’s objections.

    When Michigan began to talk about offering vouchers to homeschool families, the vast majority of us didn’t want any “state strings”.  However, when Public Charter schools were uncapped in 2013, a least some homeschool families with older kids did take advantage of the new schools that opened up (prior to that, kids had to use a lottery system to get into charters).

    The state runs a free online public school designed for home schoolers, and the old-fashioned system generally competes for students through the school-choice options available.  So, in general, state monies follow the student, similar to a voucher system, but with a key difference; charter schools are compensated for a great deal less than the typical old-fashioned district school, and homeschools get nothing. With all the competition, a lot of creative destruction is going on, and education is improving because of choice – which is very conservative.

    • #23
  24. 6foot2inhighheels Member
    6foot2inhighheels
    @6foot2inhighheels

    Arizona Patriot: Such strings would be understandable and justifiable. If the state were to pay a parent, say, $5,000 to $6,000 per child to “homeschool,” there is a risk that some (bad) parents would pull their kids out of school, not educate them at all, and pocket the money. This would not apply to my family or the many homeschoolers that we know, who are already giving their kids great educations with no state help at all. But it is a risk.

    Funny story- in 1993 Michigan parents finally were able to homeschool their kids without fear of being thrown in jail.  In addition, the state was not allowed to make parents register, or report to the state. (Studies have shown that homeschool freedom produces the greatest percentage of successful students, especially compared to public school students).  It was around 2005 that a state legislator spoke at a Mackinac Center event, and revealed that the although Michigan didn’t have the exact number of homeschoolers available, they were pretty sure that if homeschooling were made illegal again, the local school systems would be completely overwhelmed.  So there was economic pressure to leave the homeschoolers alone, and to find an alternative to district schools – Our nutty liberal Governor (Granholm) couldn’t do anything about it.

    • #24
  25. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    “As your President, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. I understand many stale old politicians will resist. But it’s time for our country to start thinking big once again. We spend too much time quibbling over the smallest words, when we should spend our time dreaming about the great adventures that lie ahead.” – Donald J. Trump

    https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-remarks-on-school-choice

    • #25
  26. Matt White Member
    Matt White
    @

    Mendel: Since Texas is already forking over the $8,500 per pupil, and only a taxpayer with a $700,000+ house is paying at least that much in taxes annually, you don’t need a higher degree in math to realize that a very small number of Texan taxpayers must be paying for the lion’s share of the state’s expenses.

    While that’s a factor, I don’t the soaking the rich is the biggest factor in families getting more than they pay in. The biggest factor is all the property taxes collected from people without school age children.  It’s not just individuals without children. It’s also all the commercial property.  I don’t know if this applies to Texas, but Michigan taxes primary residences at a lower rate than other property.

    Also,  it’s worse than that. A $700,000 house pays enough in taxes for 1 student, so every additional student in a house skews it even more. I’ll assume this is just the portion of taxes directed to education. If it’s the total tax burden for a house that size, then it’s even more distorted.

    • #26
  27. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Arizona Patriot: I worry about the strings that would be attached to an ESA program that would provide money to homeschoolers.

    You are absolutely right.

    Interesting story that came about in the 1990s in Massachusetts. The one town that rejected all state and federal education funding had the best standardized test scores, including SATs, in the state.

    That just speaks volumes as to how damaging centralized government is to students’ learning.

    • #27
  28. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    MarciN:

    Arizona Patriot: I worry about the strings that would be attached to an ESA program that would provide money to homeschoolers.

    You are absolutely right.

    Interesting story that came about in the 1990s in Massachusetts. The one town that rejected all state and federal education funding had the best standardized test scores, including SATs, in the state.

    That just speaks volumes as to how damaging centralized government is to students’ learning.

    What town was that?

    • #28
  29. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    EdPolaski:  If you don’t like, say, your local Kyrene elementary school or any of the charter alternatives, and you can afford a private school, I don’t think anyone should get a tax credit for paying your kid’s private school tuition. That’s really the entirety of my point. And it’s also based largely on 2016 budget and education realities – in a more perfect world, I might feel differently.

    But why is that any different from taxpayers picking up the tab at the district school or a charter school? If the state is going to be in the business of funding kids’ educations, why shouldn’t the money just follow the child? (Or, at least, provide tax incentives that have the net effect of saving the state money while expanding educational opportunity.) Shouldn’t conservatives favor a system that fosters a market and empowers families over a system that is dominated by a government monopoly?

    • #29
  30. Jason Bedrick Inactive
    Jason Bedrick
    @JasonBedrick

    Arizona Patriot:My wife homeschools 2 of our kids. I worry about the strings that would be attached to an ESA program that would provide money to homeschoolers.

    Such strings would be understandable and justifiable. If the state were to pay a parent, say, $5,000 to $6,000 per child to “homeschool,” there is a risk that some (bad) parents would pull their kids out of school, not educate them at all, and pocket the money. This would not apply to my family or the many homeschoolers that we know, who are already giving their kids great educations with no state help at all. But it is a risk.

    It is a risk that I acknowledge, but the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. There’s nothing stopping the state from regulating homeschooling even without the ESA — indeed, many states highly regulate homeschooling whereas Arizona’s ESA has very few regulations, besides the requirement that the funds are actually spent for educational purposes.

    The ESA program allows families to use the ESA funds for a variety of educational purposes, as I outlined above. It would be exceedingly difficult for families to simply pull their kids out of school and then not educate them because they have to submit receipts. And really, if the parents are that bad, why give up a year’s worth of “free babysitting” at the district school for a measly few thousand dollars?

    In any case, if the ESA included regulations that homeschoolers did not like, they could forgo the ESA funding.

    It could be made to work, if the requirements were limited to something like a standardized achievement test.

    Arizona’s ESA does not even include a testing mandate, although some ESA programs require students to take their choice of nationally norm-referenced tests.

    There is also a legitimate conservative concern about cost. The extent of the additional cost would depend on the percentage of students already in private school or homeschooling, receiving no government aid.

    Theoretically, the program could cost taxpayers more if most of the students would not have enrolled in a district school anyway. But in the long run, as the program grows, the savings are likely to be significant. I expect we’ll see a full fiscal analysis within the next few years.

    • #30
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