Jeff Spalding, former CFO for the City of Indianapolis and current director of Fiscal Policy and Analysis at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, published an interesting blog post last week titled If you think expanding school choice is expensive. I found his examples intriguing as they stimulated some good discussion around the question of whether we can really fund school choice in North America. This piece looks at the drop in the total number of students enrolled in private schools (at roughly 3 percent, or approximately 1.5 million students, over the past 25 years) and what America might have saved had we considered a different public policy for funding education.
Spalding’s example shows that if the number of students in private school remained at the same percentage today as it held in 1984 (12.7%), and we used an on-the-low-end cost per pupil in public education of $10,000, the math gets pretty interesting…
$10,000 (cost per pupil) * 1,500,000 students (now attending public schools) = $15,000,000,000/year!
That is a pretty good chunk of change private school parents had been saving America. Spalding continues to show that if private school enrollment had held steady from 1985 – 2010, spending in public schools might be cut by as much as $222 billion.
I offer my encouragement to read his blog post to look at a voucher option he presents, explaining what could have happened if we had considered such a program in 1984. We have an opportunity in North America to be part of changing if to when. Just think about our children in K-12 schools today reading a post (as parents in 2049) about when the federal and state government changed the public policy on funding education…how great would it be for those who will chose Christian schools as the educational environment for their children?
My favorite neighbor had a saying – “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, everyone would have a merry Christmas.” Stay tuned to what is happening in your state as well as what is happening around the nation in regard to school choice. Be part of the grassroots movements that exist in the world of school choice. No more ifs and buts for our generation…let’s make school choice a reality!
Dr. Tim Van Soelen serves as the Director of CACE. Tim is also a professor of education at Dordt University. He has served as a principal, assistant principal, and middle school math and computer teacher at schools in South Dakota and California. Tim has his undergraduate degree from Dordt and advanced degrees from Azusa Pacific University and the University of South Dakota.