Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Those damn liberals!

"Sloganeering is used by people who are afraid their point of view is not as valid as they want it to be. I think the truth straight up is much better."

From PCE:

Dear Republican Friend,

Last month the Republican-led legislature and Governor Jon Huntsman passed important school choice legislation. This legislation empowered parents over liberal unions and education bureaucrats, providing a critical catalyst to reform public education.

Not surprisingly, this effort to empower parents has struck great fear in the hearts of those who have controlled public education for decades. Led by the liberal teachers union and quickly joined by their key allies, the Democratic Party and education bureaucrats, these special interests have launched a petition drive to put this important legislation on hold for two years.

We need your help to stop the Democratic Party's latest power grab to take away parents' rights to choose the best schools for their children. As almost never before we need the support of Republican's like you to ensure that Democrats cannot overturn the law to serve the interests of the liberal teachers unions.

Liberal Democrats want to stop any meaningful education reform. It was not enough that the Legislature gave them the biggest budget increase in history, almost $500 million for a total budget of $3.5 billion. The school choice program, (budgeted for just $9 million) represents a threat to their monopoly power and so they are using every tool to stop it. Their agenda: higher taxes, unchecked spending, and a blank check with no accountability.

Now, the liberal special interests and their union financial supporters are trying to overturn the law. And they are going to the state ballot to do it. We have to stop them!

They are currently circulating petitions to try to overturn the law. Their petition drive will be bankrolled by the very liberal National Education Association (NEA) teachers' union - the very same liberal union that tries to force its liberal social values into our schools and that has spent millions to elect liberal politicians like John Kerry and Al Gore.

Republicans must not sign these petitions! Republicans must also be aware that it is very likely that some school bureaucrats will attempt to use taxpayer dollars - including school property and school resources - to support their petition drive. If you find evidence of this abuse of taxpayer dollars, please contact Parents for Choice in Education at (801) 532-1448 or info@choiceineducation.org immediately!

The liberal union petition drive is nothing more than a desperate attempt to maintain power while denying parents any meaningful ability to direct the education of their children.

Please distribute the enclosed flyer to neighbors and anywhere you see the petition being circulated. You can also print additional copies at www.choiceineducation.org.

Your help to preserve school choice in Utah is urgently needed. Thank you for your support of giving parents the right to choose the best education for their children.


Doug Holmes

I will be dissecting this letter over the next few days. You all come back now ya hear!


Jesse said...

Partisan hackjobs like this letter's author are one of the many reasons I stay non-partisan.

Anonymous said...

A little over the top, but I do agree with it.

One thing that hurts the whole anti-voucher movement is the attempt by teachers and unions to maintain the monopoly and status quos in education.

Why isn’t the education establishment willing to give vouchers a try?

What are they scared off?

Heaven forbid we empower parents with vouchers to give them a greater say as to where they can send their children to school.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Ethan's post at SLC SPIN - he supports vouchers.

Anonymous said...

I would say "What are you scared of?" When 80% of Utahns would like to have their say on this issue, I say let the people vote!

J-Man said...

Its not about fear its about legislators not listening to the majority of Utahns who will educate their children in public schools, and who understand that choice has always exsisted.

That is why private schools are callled "private".

Anonymous said...

Olene Walker supports the referendum.

hello dashing said...

I know plenty of Republicans, some "conservative republicans" (If we really have to toss around the words liberal democrats) who believe that vouchers are a bad idea,for a myriad of reasons. This letter is merely appealing to their base, who support them anyway and who fear the big bad liberal democrats who are going to force their kids into gay marriage and abortion.

Biggest piece of hogwosh I've seen to date. Their main goal? Completely dismantle public education. I say let them do it and watch all the Utah sheep fall off the cliff as they run after them.

Richard Watson said...

Read today's Des News op-ed from the National PTA president.
I guess parents who belong to the PTA are a "liberal, union", too. What a bunch of garbage! If conservatives don't like anything Democrats try to do, they instantly use the "liberal" label and then it makes it evil.
Back to vouchers; parents had a voice and a choice before. Promoting school vouchers has never been and never will be about "choice".
This whole voucher debate about providing "choice" is the worst arguement voucher proponents have come up with. It does not make any sense whatsoever. Think about it, if a parent wanted to send a child to private school, guess what, they can. This garbage about providing money for the lower income families will not help at all. Anyone who will use the vouchers will already have the resources to send their children to private schools.
Why won't voucher proponents tell the truth? Because they want another tax break at the expense of 90% of Utahns.
Voucher proponents need to stop using the arguement of choice and come up with something better.

the angel liberal said...

God is a liberal.

Anonymous said...

Utah has education vouchers: why liberals should embrace the change.

Utah has become the first US state to introduce a full school choice program for students. Of course the real beneficiaries of state education have never been the students but the unionized educators who see public schooling as way to transfer wealth from parents and taxpayers to teachers and bureaucrats. Teachers unions and the Democratic lapdog opposed giving parents choice in regards to schooling.

Under the new legislation, which has been signed by the governor and is now law, parents will be able to claim a voucher of between $500 and $3000 to help send their children to private schools. Voucher values are higher for lower income parents than for higher income parents.

The flaw is the bill is that it excludes anyone now attending a private school. Ideally it should also attach all education funding to the students and have the funds follow the student. School districts that do poor jobs would see funding cut as students abandon the failed schools for more successful ones.

A particularly stupid remark came from state Senator Gene Davis, a Democrat, who said: “It’s about taking taxpayer dollars and giving them to private industry.” Really? Then so do food stamps for the poor which Democrats support. Welfare recipients are given other people’s money to spend in privately owned grocery stores. They don’t spend that money down at the city hall canteen.

Democrats don’t seem particularly worried if welfare cheques are spent with the crack dealer of the beneficiaries choice? They aren’t stopping taxpayer funds, via welfare recipients from going to the local liquor store. Now why is it that they are so concerned about whether parents spend their money on good schooling if they don’t worry about how welfare recipients spend their money? Could the difference be that the teacher’s unions pour millions of dollars into the Democratic Party. Democrats are pro-poor unless, of course, they get more money from wealthy unions and then they’ll sell out the poor in a flash.

At least with school vouchers the parents are given back some of their own money to spend at the school of their choice.

This might help solve one problem. A state legislator is trying to use the power of the state to prevent students at schools from forming a Gay/Straight Alliance on campuses. There are 14 such student groups in Utah already.

Tim Beagley, a former member of the Utah Board of Education argues that the legislators can now stop trying to micromanage the schools.

Legislators can start by killing some bills currently before them. For example, they no longer need to tell districts how to elect their board members. If parents don't like how their district works, they can leave. No government oversight is required. In their own words, people can vote with their feet.
They don't need to regulate school clubs. If parents don't like the clubs at their school, they can choose another education vendor. They don't need to tell schools what to do if students are truant. If you don't approve of the way your school handles problem children, you can now take your child to a school that is more to your liking.
They don't need to regulate what teachers say in the classroom. If you don't like what your teacher is telling you or your child, you can go somewhere else.
After they cut the red tape from this year, they can start hacking away at regulations from prior years. At long last, we can abandon all that useless testing. Accountability now resides strictly with the parents, not the government. We can get rid of No Child Left Behind. We don't need UPASS, CRTs, NAEP or Iowa Basic Skills. Best of all, we can throw out that ridiculous high school graduation test. It only seemed to catch the students with severe disabilities or poor English skills anyway.
Parents can tell if their student is progressing adequately.
If the Legislature really believes in free markets and parental control of education, legislators need to step out of the way of both.

Now what I would like to see is for some of the good teachers in the schools to form their own educational co-op. A private school, contrary to the ranting nonsense from the Democrats, need not be a private company at all. The co-op can be formed by teachers and it can provide a decent education to students without the micromanagement of the state. Get the rules and regulations out of the way and let the teachers teach.

I would like to see good quality, secular, private schools teaching kids. Instead of bitching about private education mainly being run by religious groups secular liberals need to open their own schools. Consider this my friends on the Left. You can have a school where you don’t have to turn over the ID date to the military for recruitment as you do with state schools. You can have a school where you don’t have to have some fundamentalist nutter come in with his version of sex education -- as you do in the public schools. You don’t have to worry about some board of education forcing theology on you in the form of so-called Intelligent Design.

Now if I were a resident of Utah (and quite honestly I can’t envision that ever happening) I would be jumping up and down with joy especially if I were on the political Left (and where I am is anybody’s guess). Here are the facts. Utah is a Theopublican state and it will be a Theopublican state for a long time. In a state system of education that means the Theopublicans will be running the system. They will decide what is taught, how it is taught, what texts to use, etc. Now here is your chance to have a school with different values. Use it.

So find a few teachers. Check out the local United Church of Christ congregation and see if they have a church big enough to house a school during the week. Go to the various liberal congregations and organizations in the state who will be just as unhappy with Right-wing controlled schools as you. Now you have some students. Use those vouchers to help cover the costs. Education doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Here is your chance to run a school by your own values and show that it works.

Consider a classroom with 25 students. Assume they are lower class students qualified for the full voucher of $3000. That is $75,000. That ought to cover a salary for the teacher, school books and pay the church something for the use of their facilities. If the church can hold five classes of that size you have a budget of $375,000. I can see with that sort of income you should be able to run a fair school if you aren’t wasting funds on lots of bureaucrats who don’t teach. And that is assuming no income from the parents, no donations from local groups or businesses, etc.

I think this is a prime opportunity for those of us who are secular humanists to get the kids out of the hands of the Theopublicans and give them the education they deserve. Stop whining and get that school going now.

Anonymous said...

What Would A School Voucher Buy?
The Real Cost Of Private Schools
by David Boaz and R. Morris Barrett

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and the editor of Liberating Schools: Education in the Inner City. R. Morris Barrett is a writer in New York.


Executive Summary

American schools are failing because they are organized according to a bureaucratic, monopolistic model. A school voucher of $3,000 per student per year would give more families the option of sending their children to non-government schools. However, many people believe that such a small amount could not possibly cover tuition at a private school; they may be thinking of such costly schools as Dalton, Andover, and Exeter and concluding that all private schools cost in excess of $10,000 a year.

In fact, Education Department figures show that the average private elementary school tuition in America is less than $2,500. The average tuition for all private schools, elementary and secondary, is $3,116, or less than half of the cost per pupil in the average public school, $6,857. A survey of private schools in Indianapolis, Jersey City, San Francisco, and Atlanta shows that there are many options available to families with $3,000 to spend on a child's education. Even more options would no doubt appear if all parents were armed with $3,000 vouchers.


It is increasingly understood that America's education crisis is one of school structure, not of per pupil expenditures. Simply put, American schools are failing because they are organized according to a bureaucratic, monopolistic model; their organizing principle is basically the same as that of a socialist economy. For the same reason that socialist economies around the world have failed and continue to fail, America's centrally planned schools are failing.

Of course, not all American schools are failing; many are remarkable successes. The trouble is that most of the good schools charge tuition--they are private schools, independent of the government system. They illustrate the value of different schools for different children and the benefits customers derive from competition in school improvement.

The growing movement for school choice calls for a voucher or tax credit system to inject greater market mechanisms and pressures into the education system. Typically, choice plans target around $2,500 as an appropriate value for vouchers or tax credits (as in the 1993 California choice initiative). Many opponents of choice claim that $2,500 would not cover tuition at independent schools, and many well informed citizens are skeptical that a voucher in that amount would gain a student admission to a nongovernment school. However, government figures and other research show that the average tuition at independent elementary schools is less than $2,500. Furthermore, opponents over- look the dynamic market for education that would develop if a choice plan were effected.

How Bad Are the Government Schools?

After more than a decade of national attention and reform efforts, there should be little doubt that America's schools remain in crisis. Scholastic Aptitude Test scores tell part of the story: they fell from 978 to 890 between

Figure 1 Top-Scoring Students on the Verbal Portion of the SAT, 1972 and 1994

Source: College Board, "1994 Profiles of SAT and Achievement Test Takers," p. 9.

1963 and 1980; scores then recovered slightly, rising to 904 by the mid-1980s, but have remained flat since then. It is sometimes claimed by the education establishment that test scores have fallen because more students are taking college admissions tests these days. But the absolute number of students with outstanding scores has fallen dramatically as well: in 1972, 2,817 students scored above 750 (out of a possible 800) on the verbal test, and another 116,630 scored above 600. By 1994 those figures had dropped to 1,438 and 79,606, respectively (Figure 1).(1)

Another indicator of the government schools' failure is the number of colleges and businesses doing the work of the high schools: by the late 1980s, 25 percent of U.S. college freshmen were taking remedial math courses, 21 percent were taking remedial writing courses, and 16 percent were taking remedial reading courses.(2) Remedial reading--in college! A recent survey of 200 major corporations found that 22 per- cent of them teach employees reading, 41 percent teach writing, and 31 percent teach mathematical skills. The American Society for Training and Development projected in 1990 that 93 percent of the nation's biggest companies would be teaching their workers basic skills within the next three years.(3)

Those trends, however, cannot capture the special tragedy of America's inner-city schools, which have become a key element of the vicious circle of poverty. Virtually every major newspaper in the country has recently--if not regularly--sent reporters into inner-city schools only to discover that such institutions are nightmares of gangs, drugs, and violence, with little if any learning going on. Bonita Brodt, who studied the Chicago schools for the Chicago Tribune, writes that she found

an institutionalized case of child neglect. . . . I saw how the racial politics of a city, the misplaced priorities of a centralized school bureaucracy, and the vested interests of a powerful teachers union had all somehow taken precedence over the needs of the very children the schools are supposed to serve.(4)

Education used to be a poor child's ticket out of the slums; now it is part of the system that traps people in the underclass. In a modern society a child who never learns to read adequately--much less to add and subtract, to write, to think logically and creatively--will never be able to lead a fully human life. He or she will be left behind by the rest of society. As former Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich concluded,

As many as one-third of the nation's 40 million school-aged children are at risk of either failing, dropping out or falling victim to crime, drugs, teenage pregnancy or chronic unemployment. What is even more troubling is that, despite the wave of education reform that is sweeping the country, the evidence suggests that the gap between the educational "haves" and the "have-nots" is widening. As Americans, we must come to grips with the fact that our present educational practices are contributing to the creation of a permanent underclass in our society.(5)

When the poor quality of U.S. education is pointed out, we are frequently told that more should be spent on the government schools. But such claims are fallacious. Since World War II real (inflation-adjusted) spending per student has increased about 40 percent per decade, or about doubled every 20 years (Figure 2).(6)

Figure 2 Inflation-Adjusted Spending on American Schools

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Educational Testing Service, Digest of Education Statistics, 1995 (Washington: National Center for Education Statistics, 1995), Table 163.

The money does not go primarily to affluent school districts. The Boston schools, for instance, spend $7,300 per enrollee each year and more than $9,000 per student in average daily attendance.(7) The figure is $9,500 per enrollee in Washington, D.C., and $7,350 in New York City.(8)

Why the Schools Don't Work

America's public school system was initiated in the early 1900s by Progressive Era reformers who believed that a rational, professional, and bureaucratic system--a "one best system"--could be established to maintain certain standards of education for all of society. Although such socialist thinking and economic planning have collapsed elsewhere in the world--most notably in the former Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe--we Americans have failed to apply the lessons in the few areas of our economy that are organized along similar lines. Tragically, although our unified, centralized government school system is a dinosaur in the information age, it fiercely resists market-oriented re- forms.

The evidence is overwhelming that America's government schools are overcentralized, bureaucratic behemoths. The number of school districts plunged--from 101,382 in 1945-46 to 40,520 in 1959-60 to 14,881 in 1993-94--and the number of parents and students in each district rose dramatically during the same period (Figure 3).(9) The percentage of school funding provided by local government fell from 63.9 percent in 1946 to 43.9 percent in 1987.(10)

Figure 3 Number of Public School Districts, 1945-94

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 1995, Table 88.

The nonteaching bureaucracy has mushroomed; it grew by 500 percent between 1960 and 1984. Over the same period, the number of teachers and principals grew by a comparatively puny 57 percent and 79 percent, respectively.(11)

The situation is markedly different for America's independent schools. For example, in 1987, while there were 3,300 employees in the central and district offices of the Chicago public school system, a mere 36 administrators oversaw the schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, although its student population is 40 percent of that of the public schools and it serves a much larger geographical area.(12) In the nation's largest school district, New York City, John Chubb of the Brookings Institution found an even more striking contrast: 6,000 administrators in the government schools and only 25 in the Catholic schools, although the Catholic schools served about one-fourth the number of students the government schools did.(13) Evidence on that point continues to mount; just recently, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Baltimore Archdiocese manages 34,000 students in 101 schools with 7 administrators, while the nearby Harford County public schools need 64 administrators to oversee 36,000 students in 51 schools.(14)

Massive school bureaucracies divert scarce resources from real educational activities, deprive principals and teachers of any opportunity for authority and independence, and create an impenetrable bulwark against citizen efforts to change the school system. The school systems have become susceptible to influence only from special-interest groups, notably the teachers' unions and other elements of the education establishment. Like factories of the former Soviet Union, America's government schools are technologically backward, overstaffed, inflexible, unresponsive to consumer demand, and operated for the convenience of top- level bureaucrats.

Not just free-market intellectuals hold those views. Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, acknowledged recently,

It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.(15)

Reforming the Schools

The time has come to give the competitive market economy--the system that has given us two centuries of dramatically increasing living standards, the system on which we rely for everything from food and clothing to VCRs and world travel--a chance to improve our educational system. We need to give parents and students a chance to choose their schools. We need to give teachers and principals a chance to be more successful by producing successful students and-- just as important--a chance to lose their jobs if they fail.

Researchers from across the political spectrum increasingly agree on the need to free the schools and empower educational consumers. In their comprehensive study, John Chubb and Terry Moe found that the most crucial factors in the development of good schools were autonomy, an education- al mission, and effective leadership. Furthermore,

Autonomy turns out to be heavily dependent on the institutional structure of school control. In the private sector, where schools are controlled by markets--indirectly and from the bottom up--autonomy is generally high. In the public sector, where schools are controlled by politics--directly and from the top down--autonomy is generally low.(16)

Both bureaucracy and direct democratic control, said Chubb and Moe, interfere with autonomy and school effectiveness. They found that teachers and principals are much more likely to view each other as partners in private schools than in public schools. The politicized bureaucracy of the government schools makes teachers and principals adversaries; the dynamic, market-directed private schools make them colleagues.

We need a program of educational choice to make independent schools available to all families. Such a program would ensure that every parent could choose from a variety of schools, both government run and independent. The government would pay or reimburse each child's educational expenses up to a certain level, and students would not be required to attend a government school to receive funding.

The simplest way to create a system of educational choice is a voucher plan or a tax credit system. Under such a plan, the state would give the parent or guardian of every child a voucher or tax credit to be spent on educational services at any public or private school in the state. Government schools would honor the voucher or tax credit as full payment, but independent schools should be free to charge an additional amount if they choose to do so--to allow more variety in the educational system.

Proponents of a voucher or tax credit system have generally targeted around $2,500 as the per pupil figure, as in California's Proposition 174. Opponents of choice-- themselves usually upper middle class-- frequently allege that such a small amount could not possibly cover tuition at a private school; however, they may be thinking of such costly schools as Dalton, Andover, and Exeter and concluding that all private schools cost in excess of $10,000 per year. Government figures show that the average private elementary school tuition in America is less than $2,500 (Table 1). Since the average tuition for all private schools, elementary and secondary, is now $3,116, less than half the public school figure of $6,857, it might be logical for advocates of choice to propose a voucher of $3,000.

Table 1
Private School Tuition, by Type of School and Level: 1993-94
Average Type of School Tuition ($)
All private schools 3,611
Elementary 2,138
Secondary 4,578
Combined 4,266
Catholic Schools 2,178
Elementary 1,628
Combined 4,153
Other religious schools 2,915
Elementary 2,606
Secondary 5,261
Combined 2,831
Nonsectarian Schools 6,631
Elementary 4,693
Secondary 9,525
Combined 7,056

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 1995, Table 60.

Government figures also reveal that in 1993-94 some 67 percent of all private elementary and secondary schools-- more than 17,000 schools nationwide--charged $2,500 or less for tuition, and some 19 percent charged less than $1,000. Less than 31 percent of American private elementary and secondary schools charged more than $2,500 in tuition (Table 2).

It should be noted that those figures probably underestimate the real costs of both public and private schools, as Myron Lieberman has pointed out.(17) For instance, stated public school costs omit such real costs as capital outlays and pension liabilities. And private school tuitions are supplemented by contributions, fundraising events, in-kind contributions by parents, and below-market labor costs,

Table 2
U.S. Private Schools, by Tuition, 1993-94
Number of Tuition ($) Schools
Less than 1,000 5,133
1,000 - 2,499 12,259
2,500 - 4,999 5,541
5,000 or more 2,904

Source: Based on National Center for Education Statistics, "Schools and Staffing Survey, 1990-91," Exhibit 8.

especially in Catholic schools. More research is needed so that voters and policymakers can know how much we are really spending for education, both public and private. But the purpose of this essay is to examine what a voucher will buy, so we limit our analysis to the tuition a family would pay if it chose a private school.

We might note also that an ideal voucher plan would allow families to add their own money to the amount of the voucher--so that a family willing to pay $2,000 for education could add that to a $3,000 voucher and be able to afford a $5,000 school. Privately funded voucher plans in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and other cities have been used by many low-income parents to pay half the tuition at nongovernment schools in order to remove their children from undisciplined, ineffective, and often dangerous government schools. Surely middle-income families would be willing to put forth the same proportional effort. Some scholars predict that vouchers would mean that more total money would be spent on education, as families added their own funds to the vouchers.(18)

Skeptics may still wonder if $3,000 will buy a private school education in all types of American cities--high-cost cities, middle-income cities, and comparatively poor cities. To evaluate the usefulness of a $3,000 voucher in a variety of urban environments, the Cato Institute surveyed all independent schools in four disparate American cities: Jersey City, a small, working-class city outside New York City; Atlanta, a large southern city; Indianapolis, a mid sized, middle-income city; and San Francisco, a large, high- income city. The survey results indicate that for the 1994- 95 school year, in each of those cities there were numerous private elementary schools that charged $3,000 or less. (In fact, in some cities the majority charged less than $3,000.) Although they were not as prevalent, in each city there were also independent secondary schools that charged $3,000 or less.

Cato Survey


The public schools of Indianapolis and surrounding townships are in Marion County. For 1993-94 the Indiana Department of Education reports that the per pupil expenditure for Marion County schools was $4,678. At private schools the median tuition was $2,180. Forty-nine of the independent primary schools in Indianapolis charged less than the public schools' per pupil expenditure, and 42 of those charged less than $3,000 (Table 3, p. 12).

Fourteen independent secondary schools in Indianapolis charge less than the city's expenditure of $4,678 per student, and 11 of those charge less than $2,500. The median tuition at Indianapolis private secondary schools is $1,850 (Table 4, p. 13).

San Francisco

The public schools of San Francisco are in the San Francisco Unified School District. According to the Business Services Department, in 1994-95 the district paid $4,489 per pupil at public schools. Forty-one independent primary schools in San Francisco, by contrast, charged less than that amount, and 36 of those charged less than $2,500. The median tuition for San Francisco private primary schools was $2,225 (Table 5, p. 14).

Seven independent secondary schools in San Francisco charge less than the city spends, though only two charge less than $3,000. The median tuition for private secondary schools in San Francisco, one of America's most expensive cities, is $7,200 (Table 6, p. 15).

Jersey City

Jersey City's public schools are in Hudson County, New Jersey. The district currently spends $8,315 per pupil at public schools, even though low-cost alternatives to them abound. Not one of Hudson County's 40 private elementary schools charges as much as the government schools cost--in fact, only two cost more than $3,000. The median tuition is $1,775 (Table 7, p. 16).

As is the case with the primary schools, none of Jersey City's 16 private high schools costs as much as the public schools spend, and six cost $3,000 or less. The median cost is $3,210 (Table 8, p. 17).


Atlanta's public schools are located in Dekalb and Fulton Counties, Georgia. Those districts spend $5,769 per pupil at public schools. Thirty-three independent primary schools in Atlanta charge less than that amount, and 17 of those charge less than $3,000. The median tuition is $3,312 (Table 9, p. 18).

Fifteen of Atlanta's 29 independent high schools charge less than the government schools' costs, and six charge less than $3,000. Median tuition is $5,600 (Table 10, p. 19).

Tabulations of Data
Table 3
Tuition at Private Elementary Schools in Marion County, Indiana
School Tuition($) School Tuition($)
Holy Cross Central School 1,280 Saint Pius X School 2,195
Saint Gabriel School 1,310 Saint Michael School 2,328
All Saints Catholic School 1,480 Saint Mark School 2,328
Indianapolis Baptist School 1,485 Capital City 7th Day Adv. 2,335
Saint Monica's School 1,600 Saint Roch School 2,370
Gray Road Christian School 1,695 Nativity School 2,475
Chapel Hill Christian Shcool 1,695 Trinity Lutheran School 2,500
Saint Phillip Neri School 1,739 Divine Savior Evagelical Lutheran 2,500
Holy Angels Catholic Shool 1,760 Tabernacle Christian Academy 2,520
Trinity Christian Shcool 1,764 Christ THe King School 2,520
Central Catholic School 1,770 Calvary Lutheran 2,560
Saint Rita's School 1,800 Saint Lawrence School 2,750
Madrasa Tulilm 1,800 Saint Matthew School 2,775
Lakeview Christian Academy 1,800 LPP & Arlington Elementary 2,829
Saint Jude Elementary 1,840 Siant Christopher School 2,875
Saint John Evangelical School 1,925 Saint Simon the Apostle School 3,085
Westside Christian School 1,940 Northside Montessori School, Inc. 3,100
Our Lady of Laurdes School 1,940 Holy Spirit School 3,115
Building Blocks Academy 1,980 Saint Luke School 3,125
Saint Barnabas School 2,000 Immaculate Heart School 3,140
St. Joan of Arc School 2,060 Children's House 3,150
True Belief Baptist Academy 2,060 Saint Thomas Aquinas School 3,250
Zion Hope Christian School 2,090 Hebrew Academy of Indianapolis 4,995
Emmaus Lutheran School 2,100 Sycamore School 5,025
Little Flower 2,132 Worthmore Academy 5,500
Saint Richard's 2,160 Orchard Country 6,300
Saint Andrew the Apostle 2,180*

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private elementary schools in Marion County, Indiana. *Median cost.

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private high schools in Marion County, Indiana. *Median cost.

Table 4
Tuition at Private High Schools in Marion County, Indiana
School Tuition ($)
Lord of Life Christian School 1,225
Salem Park Academy 1,270
Engledale Christian School 1,650
Suburban Baptist School 1,665
Indianapolis Junior Academy 1,700
Faithway Christian School 1,825
Baptist Academy 1,835
Indianapolis Christian School 1,850*
Calvary Christian 2,060
Colonial Christian School 2,200
Indianapolis Christian School 2,210
Heritage Christian School 3,454
Cardinal Ritter 3,700
Bishop Chartard High School 4,500
Park Tudor School 8,500

Table 5
Tuition at Private Elementary Schools in San Francisco County, California
School Tuition($) School Tuition($)
St. Peter's Parish 900 International Christian School 2,250*
St. Anne Elementary 1,000 St. Mary's Chinese Day 2,300
San Francisco Chinese Parents 1,000 St. Philip Elementary 2,340
St. Dominic 1,100 San Francisco Junior Academy 2,385
St. Paul Elementary 1,300 St. John's Elementary 2,480
Sacred Heart Grammer 1,400 San Francisco Christian Ele. 3,200
Our Lady of the Visitacion 1,450 Cornerstone Academy 3,200
St. Charles Elementary 1,500 Hillwood Academic Day 3,500
St. Stephen's Elementary 1,500 Discovery Center 4,250
Epiphany elementary 1,600 Childeren's School of SF 4,400
St. Thomas More 1,625 Maria Montessori School of Golden Gate 4,900
Holy Name Elementary 1,650 Synergy 4,950
St. Anthony's Elementary 1,650 Town School for Boys 5,300
Finn Barr-Catholic 1,650 Rivendell Center for Integrative Education 5,300
St. James Elementary 1,650 Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theater 6,000
St. Monica Elementary 1,700 Katherine Delmar Burke 6,100
St. Cecilia Elementary 1,700 Live Oak 6,250
St. Bridgid 1,725 Presidio Hill 6,595
St. Gabriel Elementary 1,800 San Francisco Montessori 6,625
St. Peter and Paul 1,800 Hamlin 6,800
Star of the Sea Elementary 1,850 Chinese American International 6,830
St. Brendan Elementary 1,900 San Francisco School 6,950
Mission Dolores 1,900 Kittredge School 7,000
Zion Lutheran 1,975 Cathedral School for Boys 7,000
St. Emydius Elementary 2,020 San Francisco Waldorf 7,000
St. Elizabeth's Elementary 2,100 Brandeis-Hillel 7,250
Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires 2,100
West Portal Lutheran 2,124
Immaculate Conception 2,180
St. Thomas The Apostle 2,200*

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private elementary schools in San Francisco County, California. *The median, $2,225, falls between these two values.

Table 6
Tuition at Private High Schools in San Francisco County, California
School Tuition ($)
St. Paul High 2,100
Voice of Pentecost Academy 2,600
Immaculate Conception Academy 3,450
Mercy High 3,950
St. Ignatius College Preparatory 4,100
S. R. Martin College Preparatory 4,100
Bridgemont High 4,375
Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory 5,100
Riordan High 5,615
New Learning School 7,200*
Woodside International 7,690
Hebrew Academy of San Francisco 7,900
Lycée Français International 8,350
Sterne 8,500
Drew College Preparatory 9,700
Urban School of San Francisco 9,750
San Francisco University High 9,950
Convent of the Sacred Heart 10,375

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private high schools in San Francisco County, California. *Median cost.

Table 7
Tuition at Private Elementary Schools in Hudson County, New Jersey
St. Patrick's School 1,120 Holy Cross School 1,800*
Sacred Heart School 1,150 St. Francis Academy 1,800
Our Lady of Assumption 1,200 St. Peter School 1,830
Assumption All Saints 1,200 St. John Nepomucene School 1,850
Sacred Heart School (NJ) 1,250 St. Stephen School 1,850
St. Cecilia 1,255 Our Lady of Mount Carmel(Bayonne City) 1,900
Mt. Pisgah 1,400 Our Lady of Victories 1,900
St. Joseph Palisades Elementary 1,400 Our Lady of Mount Carmel(NJ 1,935
St. Augustine 1,400 St. Aedan 2,000
Our Lady of Czestohowa 1,450 St. Anne School 2,000
John Paul II 1,500 St. Paul School 2,050
Our Lady of LIbera 1,500 St. Joseph School 2,100
Immaculate Conception 1,500 St. Vincent De Paul 2,100
St. Paul of the Cross 1,600 St. Aloysius Elementary 2,150
Beacon Christian Academy 1,600 Ibad El-Rahman 2,200
St. Anthony School 1,650 St. John and Ann School 2,275
Holy Rosary School 1,700 St. Nicholas School 2,345
St. Mary Star of Sea 1,700 Our Lady of Mercy 2,350
Saint Mary Elementary 1,735 Cornerstone School 3,750
Lutheran Parochial School 1,750*

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private elementary schools in Hudson County, New Jersey. *The median, $1,775, falls between these two values.

Table 8
Tuition at Private High Schools in Hudson County, New Jersey
School Tuition($ School Tuition($)
St. Anthony 1,850 St. Joseph of Palisades 3,320*
St. Mary High School 2,160 St. Dominic Academy 3,500
St. Aloysius High 2,300 Holy Family Academy 3,630
Al-Ghazaly 2,380 Hudson Catholic Regional High School 3,735
Holy Rosary Acadey H.S. 2,600 St. Peter's Prep 4,700
Academy of St. Aloysius 3,000 The Bergen School 4,800
Academy of Sacred Heart 3,050 Yeshiva Gedolah of Bayonne 6,500
Marist High School 3,100*

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private high schools in Hudson County, New Jersey. *The median, $3,210, falls between these two values.

Table 9
Tuition at Private Elementary Schools in Dekalb and Fulton Counties, Georgia
School Tuition($) School Tuition($)
New Covenant Christian 1,260 St. John's Episcopal 3,312*
Lithonia Adventist 1,850 Valeria Wade Christian 3,350
Light of the World 1,890 Christian Pinecrest Academy 3,450
Atlanta North School of the Seventh Day Adventists 1,950 St. Peter and Paul School 3,490
Florence Jackson Academy 2,009 Our Lady of the Assumption 3,492
Holy Fellowship Christian 2,080 Fellowship Christian Academy 3,950
Gate City Heritage House and Prep Academy 2,100 Roswell Foundation School 3,950
Christ Lutheran School 2,200 Immaculate Heart of Mary 4,000
Cornerstone Baptist School 2,250 Brimarsh Elementary 4,025
Cascade Adventist Elementary 2,450 St. Jude the Apostle 4,125
Glenn-Nova Christian 2,520 International Prep Institute 4,150
Southeastern Christian 2,520 Mt. Vernon Presbyterian 4,840
Northwest Community Academy 2,640 St. Martin's Episcopal School 5,525
Faith Academy 2,700 Wesleyan Day School 5,770
Pathway Christian School 2,750 High Meadows School 5,770
Old National Christian Academy 2,900 The Children's School 6,150
Green Forest Christian Academy 2,950 Greenfield Hebrew Academy 6,150
St. John the Evangelist Catholic 3,100 The Epstein School 6,860
Mr. Carmel Christian 3,150 Trinity School Inc. 7,270
The Scheneck School 10,300

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private elementary schools in Dekalb and Fulton Counties, Georgia. *Median cost.

Table 10
Tuition at Private High Schools in Dekalb and Fulton Counties, Georgia
New Life Assembly Christian 1,450 Mr. Vernon Christian Academy 5,600*
Becker Adventist School 2,210 The Heiskell School 5,900
Forrest Hills Christian 2,300 St. Pius X Catholic High 6,590
Stone Mountain Christian 2,475 Maris School 6,700
Green Patures Christian Academy 2,650 Yeshiva High School 7,200
Mt. Pisgah Christian Shcool 2,980 The Paideia School 7,440
Sister Clara Muhammed School 3,090 Holy Innocents' Episcopal 7,790
Colonial Hills Christian 3,267 The Lovett School 8,654
Cathedral Academy 3,500 Woodward Academy 8,710
St. Thomas More Catholic 3,676 Pace Academy 8,950
Landmark Christian 4,430 Westminster School 9,805
Masters Christian Academy 4,600 The Cottage School 10,300
Atlanta Advntist 4,800 The Howard School 10,950
Mill Springs Academy 11,500

Source: Cato Institute survey of all private high schools in Dekalb and Fulton Counties, Georgia. *Median cost.


The data presented make it clear that, today, private schools are an option not just for the wealthy but also for people who can only spend $2,000 a year or even less. Does that mean that every American child, $3,000 voucher in hand, could have a quality private education immediately? Clearly not, but that is not the point. What this research establishes is that, in any of the cities surveyed, low-cost alternatives to the public schools are not only possible-- they exist today. They offer a beacon of hope to families mired in the government school morass. A voucher or tax credit plan would open new options even for parents and students unable to contribute additional funds. Furthermore, if the voucher or tax credit were pegged at 50 percent of public cost (as in the California school choice initiative of 1993), the value would exceed $3,000 in many urban and suburban school districts.

Not surprisingly, the lower income cities cited above, Jersey City and Indianapolis, have greater proportions of low-cost schools than high-cost schools--neither city supports schools with tuitions over $8,500. That is probably a reflection of market conditions: educational entrepreneurs in those two cities cater to a clientele that, for the most part, cannot spend more than several thousand dollars for private school. Thus, the data indicate that the creation of schools follows basic principles of supply and demand.

In a worst-case scenario, a relatively small number of high school students in San Francisco and Atlanta could attend private schools immediately using only the voucher or tax credit. Yet the promise of choice is not what would be available the day after a choice plan was implemented; it is what would exist several years down the road. Choice would set in motion a dynamic process of change that, over time, would almost certainly result in new options and require government schools, perhaps for the first time, to attract students.

Most likely, those changes would be rapid and dramatic. Given that families who today choose private education are in effect paying for education twice (once for public schools in taxes and a second time for the private school), a voucher plan could create revolutionary demand for new educational institutions. If each and every family had the option of spending several thousand dollars on education-- the millions that have heretofore gone to the government in taxes--we could reasonably expect educational entrepreneurs to respond.

Schools would expand; new schools would be established; some schools might lower their tuition or offer scholarships; new teaching methods would be tested and new technologies employed; and government schools would compete to stay open. All of that--and many other unanticipated developments--will occur when families are empowered to decide where resources are spent.

With greater freedom, markets constantly change, responding to changes in supply and demand. A few years ago there were no personal computer stores and no video stores, and there certainly was not enough poultry and seafood in the groceries to satisfy today's demand for lower fat meats. But when demand arose for such products--or when entrepreneurs perceived that there would be demand for those products if they were made available--stores were established to meet the demand.

Teachers and administrators may never have the same profit incentives that businesses like the computer or food industry have. However, in at least one respect the market would treat them identically: they would have to satisfy customers to survive. Indeed, under choice it is possible that some government schools would "go out of business." Given the grim reality of many government schools, such closures would probably be highly beneficial for all parties concerned.

Choice is not about giving up on the government schools or the many fine individuals working within them; there is no reason that government schools could not flourish under choice. Indeed, by providing autonomy--the key to success in almost any human endeavor--as well as an unequivocal mandate to please customers, choice could be the best thing that ever happened to the good teachers and principals in government schools.

Toward the end of their book, Chubb and Moe write, "It is fashionable these days to say that choice is 'not a panacea.' Taken literally this is obviously true." But they go on to say that only choice will address the basic institutional causes of educational failure and that, therefore, "reformers would do well to entertain the notion that choice is a panacea. . . . It has the capacity all by itself to bring about the kind of transformation that, for years, reformers have been seeking to engineer in myriad other ways."(19)

A program of vouchers or tax credits, with few restrictions on the kind of schools that parents can choose and a reasonable figure of $3,000 or so per student, will give families the clout to bring about a revolution in education. Schools will compete, expand, innovate, and proliferate. We know that affordable, high-quality private schools are out there. Why do we not give all children access to them?

Emily said...


I agree with you.. the choice argument confuses me, too. I really wish they would just say what they are really thinking:

It isn't about choice. They don't trust the public schools because they have little trust for government...

On the campaign trail, I heard from my voucher supporter counterparts that Utah's public schools were NOT falling apart, that we have the best public schools in the nation. These very people are now promoting vouchers along with this parents for choice group who say that public education is corrupt and that public education is "falling apart."

Huh? Which is it? Do we have A-list schools here, or are they corrupt and falling apart? Why don't these legislators stand up to them and correct that fallacy?

Let's get real. Utah's public schools are not corrupt - they do an excellent job and produce some of America's most top notch people.

hello dashing said...

Anonymous - too much to read there, my friend.

Anybody have any Utah data? I have seen these numbers from other states, but how are Utah students doing under the public education system?

Anonymous said...


The choice argument boils down to simple economics and the redistribution of wealth. Who can do a better job with my tax dollars me as a single parent or the government?

As the previous post states, no one complains when government gives the poor a handout via food stamps; but give a middle class family a voucher, which they in turn pay for via paying taxes and the left howls.

If a family pays 1,500 a year in property taxes and 500 of that is going to the local school district and that family pays another 3000 in income taxes which goes entirely to education, what is wrong with letting that family use their dollars in the form of a voucher for 2,500 to use as they want for private schools, I’m sure they know how to spend that money better than the government.

In the end Emily, it’s about choice how can spend that money better; a family or the government. I’ll trust the family any day over an educational bureaucracy influenced by corrupt unions.

People are tired of seeing their tax dollars wasted on the in-efficantacy of publc schools that don’t meet their needs, rather that giving schools more funding (i.e throw more money at the problem), give taxpayers back the money they paid and let them spend as they see fit on education.

Emily said...


Try as you might, I'm afraid you're not going to convince me.

I don't have the lack of faith in the system that you do. I have never seen any of the problems that the school-choice-proponents seem to testify of... I just don't see it in our schools in Southern Utah and feel very good about the education that both of my children are receiving.

If I didn't, I might jump on your bandwagon - but there is no proof to me that there is anything wrong. On the contrary, students in Southern Utah do extremely well. My children do very well. The sky is not falling.

Richard Watson said...

Anon(whoever you are):
The CATO Institute? Give me a break, the most right-wing think tank out there.
I question alot of the data you posted, or should I say, copied. Those tuition numbers are no where near Utah private school tuitions. Anon, I'm surprised you would use the right wing approach of comparing welfare, and "liberals". Is it any wonder that no one can argue with you, you're using right wing arguements.
I'm laughing at your theory of "redistributing the education wealth". So, it's ok to give hand outs to the rich? And that is the same thing as giving hand outs to the poor? Wow, that doesn't even make sense. It sounds like you are one of those who want to kill public schools and let the "free market" take over.
Instead of complaining about public schools, why don't you help public schools. And I don't mean supporting vouchers. Volunteer in a kindergarten class, chaparone a field trip, read to some first graders, be an aide to special needs children, etc.
Having vouchers is like cutting off your arm because your finger is bleeding. Too many times in this state, no one has the guts to fix problems, they would rather blame someone and run away from the problem.

Anonymous said...


I have volunteered in public schools and it is there that I observed a lot of the problems with public education.

It is also there that I observed the strong arm tactics of teachers unions and decided that vouchers were the cure. – The status quote of education must be changed.

As for the numbers from the Cato institute, I believe if you compare those figures to private schools in Utah, you won’t find that much of a difference, do your homework.


An old fashioned Democrat Who Votes and is active in Democratic Politics in Utah

Richard Watson said...

I did my homework and I have checked out tuitions...you should try it.
If the "teacher unions" were so damn powerful, then why do we have the lowest salaries in the country? And why can't they run everything? The Legislature is trying to crush any and all teacher groups
I'm glad you have volunteered in a public school. But it sounds like you are blaming others for the problems you see and you want to run away from it. Why not try fixing public education by being involved. But your attitude is that there is nothing that can be done and you obviously do not care about public education. Vouchers is a way of running from the problems and giving hand outs to the rich.
by an FDR Democrat who cares about children, families and the American Dream for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Vouchers are not a partisan issue. The only reason they are being painted as such is to try to keep those who vote Republican (Utah's majority)from thinking for themselves.

Anonymous said...

What about a middle class family in Utah that earns only 90,000 a year. This isn’t
A handout for the rich.

After taxes, that’s about 60,000 take home after taxes, not including property and sales taxes.

A majority of those state taxes go to towards education.

What is wrong with giving that family the option to of having a voucher in lieu of distributed payment to public schools?

We have no problems redistribution wealth to welfare recipents ; so why not help families who want to send their children to private schools in lieu of public schools.

It won’t hurt the public schools, we are just taking the funding that family would pay for a child and hand over to school where they want to send their child.

Again, it’s about control, teacher unions want control off all the money and are scared to share it with those who take a pro-active role in their child’s education.

Anonymous said...

So, I think it's interesting that the pro-"choice" voucher supporters think that this is going to give our children more choice in the schools that they attend. They spout on and on about how it will help low-income families. Let's look at a few realities here.

First, take supply and demand. If you give a group of people more money and this allows an increase in people to apply for a private school in the area, how does that private school (let's remember it's a business) respond? They raise their rates. Then, those people who all of a sudden thought they had a choice, don't....and the private school absorbs more of our public funds without helping anyone.

Secondly, let's look at the lifestyle and realities of these "lower-income" families that this is supposed to help so much. These are families where typically both parents work or have a single parent. These are families who rely on having public education close to them. Many parents won't have the ability to drive their children to multiple schools or even one private school that they can afford but is far away. These are also families who tend not to have as much time to be involved in looking into the multiple schools that their children could attend. They don't have the extra funds to put toward a private school that will surely charge on top of the voucher. So, what do they get....they get a depleted public school education where the wealthier and more "active" parents have fled the public school system. This is not productive. Most of the pro-voucher people I have spoken with are all for what it will do for their child and they show a blatant disregard for the people that it will hurt in the end. They approach it from a strictly capatilistic, every man for himself approach.... Their kids might not like that so much when they are older and oh so successful and end up supporting the growing, uneducated, even lower-income class that we all created because we didn't put the time and energy into all of the children. The more productive and educated members of society that we can create the more productive we are as a state and country.... Vouchers are NOT the answer to that.

Thirdly, one argument I heard from a friend that is pro-voucher is how all of the schools in the Netherlands are privatized and how great their education is and the competition etc etc etc.... The thing that he didn't realize is that while they are private schools, they are highly regulated in terms of standards and the "voucher" has to pay for EVERYTHING..Tuition, fees etc. Those schools cannot charge on top of the voucher.... Which is VERY different from a bunch of private schools charging hefty amounts on top of a voucher which only benefits the rich and serves to create competition with a couple of high-end private schools that charge too much and then leaves a bunch of underfunded garbage schools along the bottom. Not to mention the complete lack of regulation on private schools. I'm all for letting them do what they want but not with my money.

One last thing.... I'm the first one that feels that we need to focus energy around improving the innovation in our schools. I know a lot of wonderful teachers and there are some undesirables in there as well. Can we please stop villifying these individuals that make pittance for a career to which most of them end up subsidizing with their own money. The legislature keeps touting how much money they just put toward education (keep in mind this is on the heels of doing a huge tax cut to education right before elections...aren't they so good!) It sounds like a lot of money that they allocated but when you look at the number of children that we are trying to educate in Utah and the amount that we put towards those children we are sorely behind. And the projections for growth over the next decade are staggering. The last report I saw had us dead last in per pupil spending and the next closest state was IDAHO! And they were spending $1000 more per/pupil! OUCH!

I keep hearing people say that throwing money at the problem isn't going to fix it.... Of course we need to take an innovative approach and try and shake things up and really take some steps to make the system as good as it can be but PLEASE... OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO PUT THE MONEY IN TO MAKE IT WORK! PERIOD! If you can't pay teachers a living wage why would ANYONE even want to do it. Anyone with half a brain will pick something else.... What would you do?

So, sign the referendum and vote NOOOOOOO on vouchers. What a waste of $100 MILLION dollars.

Affectionately....your typically Republican.....but I'm not so sure after all of the creepy things our legislature does around here .....friend

PS... I want to thank all of those lovely legislatures for letting Energy Solutions dump some other state's toxic waste in our backyard.... Sooooooo generous of them...After all, they are really giving people.

Anonymous said...

If the whole idea of vouchers is to give Utahn's "choice" of where to send their children for education, then what is the big scare of letting Utah actually vote on it?? If it is going to be so beneficial, then let the public decide and dont be afraid of letting the voting public give the final word. If you are pro-choice, Then these petitions sound like the route to go. Let us choose, let it be on the ballot.