Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vouchers

Megan McArdle has a great post on Vouchers here.

1 comment:

archduke f. f. said...

I find the former Jane Galt's argument entirely unconvincing.

First, she doesn't give, nor does she link to, any conclusive study that says that vouchers work. She gives no evidence other than that she says that they do, so we should believe her.

Second, and this may just be from my own experience, but the reason that private school costs less per student than public school has a lot to do with the fact that, unless it's an elite private school, the teachers don't make jack shit. My college roommate went to a private school where two different pairs of married teachers were living in the same house, sharing the same car, because they couldn't afford their own. Another friend works at a private school in Chicago, and she makes about 25,000 a year, which is poverty in that city.

Why do these teachers do it, if it's so crappy financially? I'm playing a guessing game here, but I think it's the quality of the students. Private schools are allowed to select whoever they want and deny whoever they want. Public schools, of course, are forced to take anyone within their district, no matter how much trouble they cause or how far behind their grade level they are.

If vouchers become commonplace, either the public schools will become even worse--since only the unacceptable students will go there--or the private schools will start taking crappy students. Teachers, of course, will hate this and start demanding more money, which will lead to a raise in teachers' salaries, which will in turn cause a rise in tuition, which will price out the smart, good, poor kids whose parents can't afford to go above and beyone the vouchers, which will lead us back to where we were in the first place.

Another problem, irrespective of the ones I've outlined above, is that unless the vouchers are for full tuition price, there's no way lower middle-class parents could afford them. Even if my parents wanted my siblings and I to go to private school, they wouldn't have been able to afford even 1000/year per student. When you're running a deficit and only catch up in the summer, it's pretty unlikely that you'll be able to afford to apportion enough money for kids to go to school. Living paycheck-to-paycheck (which a significant portion of the middle-class does, even though their income is in the 40-50 K range) isn't conducive to paying school tuition when your kids can get educated for free at the public school.