January 27, 2015

School choice is a boon for taxpayers

By Jonathan Wood Attorney

People support school choice for many reasons. Most support it because it’s the last best hope for their children to get a decent education. Some hope that it is a means to mitigate the impacts of racial and income segregation. Still others support it as an alternative to the highly-politicized resolution of sensitive religious and philosophical controversies, e.g., the unconstitutionality of school prayer and state control of civics curriculum.

One oft-overlooked reason to support school choice is the bottom line. Public education is frightfully expensive. We spend more than $600 BILLION per year on public schools, which is almost 20% of all government spending. As PLF explained last year in an amicus brief supporting Alabama’s school choice program, school choice may be the key to reversing the trend of ever-increasing education costs with stagnant or declining results. Every rigorous study of the impact of school choice on education spending has found that it offers equal or better results at a substantially lower price. From PLF’s brief:

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 in the median private school.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that the chief opponents to school choice reforms are public teacher unions—a prime beneficiary of public school largesse.

What to read next