School choice saves money

August 19, 2014 | By JONATHAN WOOD

Government spends $632 billion a year on public schools. That’s almost 20% of all government spending.

Although most of the focus of Back to School Choice Week is, rightly, on the benefits to students, school choice also promises to bring that number down substantially. As PLF recently explained in a brief to the Alabama Supreme Court, every study of school choice’s fiscal impacts says that it lowers costs.

Six empirical studies have analyzed the fiscal impact of school choice on taxpayers. All have found that school choice saves money for taxpayers. The reason school choice can benefit taxpayers so significantly is that public education is preposterously expensive. A recent study attempted to quantify the total costs of public education per pupil. It found that average, per-pupil spending in the five largest metro areas and D.C. was 44% higher than officially reported, and 93% higher than spending int he median private school.

Two years ago, Alabama adopted a tax credit program to encourage private tuition scholarships that would allow students in failing public schools to transfer to other public or private schools. What did the state get for giving some of its most disadvantaged students a chance at a decent education?

It was promptly sued. I’m sure you’ve already guessed who would challenge a program that’s good for students and taxpayers. If you guessed the public teachers’ union, you’re right.