Thursday, November 01, 2007

If Not Vouchers, Then What?

Faced with the prospect of a defeat of vouchers at the polls next Tuesday, I ask the question. If not vouchers, then what?

Vouchers were implemented by a majority of the legislature, and signed by a Governor who say that vouchers will help public schools. If we take them at their word--and we must unless they have proven themselves untrustworthy on this point, then we should examine the future of public education without vouchers.

Even without the implementation of vouchers, the numbers of entrants into public schools will grow exponentially. The Utah Taxpayer Association estimates that by 2015, we will have 150,000 more students enrolled in public schools than presently.

Voucher opponents accept these numbers, although they would otherwise burn the Taxpayer Association heads at the stake for opposing them on vouchers.

Accepting the legislative fiscal analysts worst guess to be true, and only 12,000 students leave public schools with a voucher. Assuming that they take the maximum possible voucher dollar of $3,000, the general fund will have $36,000,000 subtracted from it. Utahn's for public schools say we spend $5,397 per student (lower than the estimate of $7,500). Using that number, Public Schools will have $5,397 per student in left their coffers because schools keep the money per student for five years. This comes to $64,764,000 dollars more available for public education to use per year for five years. That's 64 million that was already going to be spent on education for an investment of 36 million that would not have been spent on education.

Of course, of the 2% of students that we think may take advantage of vouchers, how many get the full $3,000? Not 100%, so my 36 million figure is somewhere between 0 and 6 million dollars higher than what will be required.

The question implicit in this is could we spend 36 million more dollars on education and get as much? Doubtful, because the savings for public schools is less when students stay in the program than if they leave, or never show up at all.

What will we do about 150,000 more students in seven years without vouchers?

We may have to find out if vouchers fail next Tuesday.

14 comments:

rmwarnick said...

Most people think private school vouchers are a solution in search of a problem. Utah's public schools will need more money and more teachers, that's not a trivial issue. Things will be fine if our legislature forgets about vouchers and starts representing the voters instead of the right-wing special interests.

Tyler Farrer said...

Your answer is nothing.

No solution to the 150,000 more students in public schools seven years from now.

I take issue with your statement that the legislature should start representing the voters.

They are elected to represent more than just the voters. Remember, this is supposed to be about the children who don't vote?

Tyler Farrer said...

No, I take it back. The lege represents the voters too. But you shouldn't complain about what the legislature does, when you have an opportunity to vote for what you want directly.

Davis Didjeridu said...

If the legislature represented voters, then they would not have passed vouchers in the first place. They would not have cut taxes for two years in a row and would have made an even greater investment in public education than in the past. This year, with another, smaller surplus the legislature can do that, but you will hear the same old BS about hearing people wanting a tax cut. Show me a poll at any time putting public education vs. tax cuts and education wins every time.
And why TF shouldn't we complain about what the legislature does? That's what we are supposed to do when we feel that they are NOT representing the will of the people. I agree that that should lead to the ballot box, but representative democracy or democratic republicanism or whatever you call our government does not end there.

Brent said...

I don't have any hard facts to support this solution but I can make an assumption that we spend an enormous amount of education tax dollars on "middle management" and overhead. Here is an example. The state has 40 districts. Does each district have it's own IT department, payroll department, purchasing departments, or other administrative departments? I believe so. How much of that could be consolidated at the state level? Shared services across the state would provide several money saving opportunities. I understand the parent's desire to "keep their money in their district" But do we really need 40 different ways to cut a payroll check or back-up a server?

WP said...

My legislator, Roger Barrus, does not represent me, which you can understand, but he often does not represent the majority wishes of his constiuents. His reponse to me on several occasions is that he knows more than I or anyone in his district and if we knew as much about things as he did then we would vote the same as he.

That is not democracy Tyler. Its just the good old boys in power.

Jason The said...

Suddenly vouchers and similar programs are the "only" alternative? How did we get this narrow minded and short-sighted?

I think you can settle down Tyler. A little internal reform and some proper support from our legislature (for the first time), and the public school system will be fine.

Vouchers aren't the answer, and they are most definitely not the only alternative to what we have now, as this post suggests.

Tyler Farrer said...

"A little internal reform and some proper support from our legislature (for the first time), and the public school system will be fine."

How will we come by the "internal reform"? What will be the driving force for change? The legislature will finally support public education, and education officials will suddenly feel the urge to reform?

I don't see the plan here. I'm open to there being one, but I haven't heard one proposed.

Rob said...

Vouchers were implemented by a majority of the legislature, and signed by a Governor who say that vouchers will help public schools. If we take them at their word--and we must unless they have proven themselves untrustworthy on this point, then we should examine the future of public education without vouchers.

Tyler, I don't know what to say except, "Vote NO!".

You said it I didn't.

When are we doing another cookie run (no pun intended).

Tyler Farrer said...

Rob,

I think you know what I meant.

Vouchers were designed to help public school children as well as those who leave for private schools.

What other solutions would you propose? Stay on course? No changes?

As far as cookies go, I'm open to sometime after the holidays (i.e. next year)

Rob said...

Tyler, your point was brilliant.

And I agree that a majority of the legislators have proven themselves untrustworthy with this issue.

Raising our taxes was never a reason to implement vouchers until the polls indicated they were losing.

Rob said...

Next Year!

Even if I buy?

Hope to see you soon.

BTW, Ron is a bretty cool dude.

Rob said...

I think I meant pretty

UtahTeacher said...

Just followed a link over from Millard Fillmore's Tub. Gov. Huntsman, a voucher supporter, projected that all of the parents coming along with those 150,000 non-orphans would cover the costs, while the legislators are claiming 3x more taxes. These projections are obviously both educated guesswork, but the fact that two different voucher supporters have such vastly different projections leads me to disbelieve the doomsday projections that were suddenly produced once vouchers showed no gains in the polls.

And as for trusting the legislators, the one I could ask personally, my senator, had not read the long, boring USU study cited to prove $1 billion in savings. The study literally creates money from thin air. My senator's private vs. public philosophy also would not be opposed to hurting the public schools financially, and I'm thinking that philosophy lead to some blind acceptance of favorable assumptions.

I disagree with a philosophy that private is always better and that public schools are "broken," but that can at least be an honestly debated difference of opinion. Dishonestly claiming that vouchers would save public schools money to convert those who don't agree with hurting the public schools is unethical.