Report: School Choice Doesn’t Harm Public Education

A new report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has revealed that American public schools are not damaged by school choice programs, citing that their costs are flexible and can change with student enrollment.

The report – The Fiscal Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts – found that 36 percent of public school expenses are “fixed” costs while 64 percent are “variable” costs over a one year period.

Ben Scafidi, a senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation and author of the report, said:

“This means when public schools lose students to a school that better meets their needs, there is no fiscal harm.

“They actually have more money when students leave because there are fewer to educate, and they get to keep some of the allotted funds to educate them.”

The report explained that if district officials are able to retain 36 percent of the funds to educate each student when children leave, then they will be able to fund costs like maintenance and capital investments that remain with school systems.

The report estimates that the average spending per child across the United States was $12,450 during the 2008-09 academic year, says a press release.

Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation, said:

“If districts have school choice programs and lose a few hundred children, they really are benefitting financially because they keep many of the dollars spent on each child.

“In no other business in America do you still get paid for not having a customer to serve.”

Scafidi added that “variable” costs which cover instruction and learning can easily be reduced when a student departs because there are fewer students to teach – especially from one year to the next.

Scafidi said:

“It’s like when children go off to college; families usually reduce household spending.

“So too is it possible for public schools to reduce spending.”

There currently are 34 school choice programs in 19 states and other jurisdictions including voucher, tax credit and education savings account programs to offer parents the opportunity to utilize their own tax dollars to transfer to the school of their choice.