Saturday, August 1, 2015

School Vouchers and Free Choice ... A Simple Explanation and Example

The other day I was asked to explain how a free choice and voucher system for K-12 schools could work and why I believe it's the way forward for American education in a globally competitive environment.

The reasons vouchers make sense are twofold: (1) the overall costs to taxpayers and society would be much lower than they are currently; and (2) more importantly, vouchers would improve our educational results greatly.

Before how cost savings and improved educational outcomes would result from vouchers, however, let's first stipulate that the government run monopolistic educational system's current protectors and defenders will continue to fight vouchers and free choice to the bitter end. For them it's an existential thing.

So while many of the 'leaders' want the freedom to choose how their own kids and families are educated since they have the opportunity and means to do so, they want no part of vouchers or free parental and student choice for our poor and middle class kids. The system really isn't all the concerned about how well our future American leaders will be educated and prepared for global competition.

Accordingly, there is and will continue to be a very high degree of  difficulty associated with making meaningful progress in improving the education experience and opportunity for many of our poor, middle class, inner city and rural American children of all races, religions and ethnic groups.

And that's in large part because the current 'system' is supported by the Democratic Party and its largest supporter and contributor to local elections, the teachers unions.

We'll begin our explanation and analysis with a conundrum.

THE QUESTION -- Can you guess who turns out to vote in overwhelming numbers for the political supporters of an inferior and non-free choice, government run voucherless system of public education? 

THE ANSWER -- The poor and inner city families who would be helped the most by free choice and educational vouchers, of course. 

Moving right along, here's a short overview of how being 'free to choose' could work everywhere in America if the game weren't rigged so heavily in favor of the government run status quo.

(1) First, we'll assume that the current K-12 education expenditures for each of 30 kids in the local public school classroom costs taxpayers ~$12,000. 

(2) That represents a total cost to taxpayers of ~$360,000 annually (30 x 12 =360).

(3) Next we'll  assume that we can hire a competent and dedicated teacher of those 30 children for ~$60,000 annually.

(4) That leaves us with ~$300,000 left to equip, feed and transport the 30 kids. We'll assume we can do that for a total of ~$90,000  or $3,000 per student. We'll also assume the local YMCA, library, Boys Club or other existing school or government facilities would allow some or all of our 30 kids to use them rent free.

(5) That leaves us with ~$210,000 which either can be used to incentivize the teacher, the students or their families to outperform their public school counterparts. {NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, we will use whatever standard test methodologies the public schools use.}

(6) Instead of using the ~$210,000 as specified in #5 hereinbove, we could instead choose to rebate all or part of the $210,000 to taxpayers.

(7) And the teacher, students and families could put their collective heads together and figure out a way to make the estimated ~$210,000 higher by reducing the above assumed cost outlays further. They could achieve this by getting adults to volunteer as teachers, using online learning tools instead of transporting the kids physically each day, packing a sack lunch or by adopting other creative and productive methods to reduce costs and improve educational outcomes.

(8) They could also choose to take the money saved, in whole or in part, and use it to send the kids to college or trade school. {NOTE: Paying for college is another story for another day, but you get the idea.}

(9) We the People will make sound choices for ourselves and our families when given the opportunity, incentive and means to do so. That's why vouchers make sense. Incentives work.

(10) And that's just one more example of why our current broken system of American politics sucks.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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