Saturday, October 27, 2007

CraigJ: Ref 1 fails as market solution

From the Utah Amicus:

As the impartial analysis in the Voter Information Pamphlet indicates, the skyrocketing costs of the Utah bill as it is phased in would come from paying vouchers to those who never intended to go to public schools in the first place. Such choices are pre-determined. And, as any economist will tell you, subsidizing pre-determined choices does not create competitive pressure since it does not alter any outcomes. These parents have already made up their minds to send their children to private schools. There is no point in handing out vouchers to them since it does nothing to influence other schools to improve. We would be racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in new, unnecessary expenditures and receiving no competitive benefits whatsoever in return. This makes no sense.

he then talks about switchers, and how many of those people "switching" to private schools would have made the switch anyway, then concludes by talking about the minute group that will only be switching because of vouchers.

But how does this actually happen? How do we convince MORE families to LEAVE the public schools? And if motivating more families to LEAVE is necessary for the bill to become effective, what does this mean for our public schools and the students they serve?

Remember - it took hundreds of millions of dollars just to get to the point where we must now wish for thousands upon thousands of additional public school students beyond the impartial numbers to LEAVE our public schools just to recoup the massive opportunity costs on the chance that the bill might exert market forces so it might create some competitive pressure so our schools might improve in spite of overwhelming research showing that this hasn’t worked when it’s been tried before.

Does this sound like a winning strategy?

But even if all of that does happen, just where does that leave the overwhelming majority of students who remain in our public schools? If the goal is to convince students to LEAVE the public schools, then what possible motivation would these lawmakers have to improve our public schools? If we improve our schools, we reduce the demand to leave. If we reduce the demand to leave, we reduce the switch rate. If we reduce the switch rate, the bill becomes an expensive failure. Why on this green earth would we set up a scenario in which the success of one program hinges on the failure of another? Why would we sacrifice the quality of the public schools where 96% of our children attend just to make them SO BAD that thousands of additional families would WANT to leave, just so we can say this bill was not a failure?

This bill makes no sense. Let’s vote it down and work together to craft real solutions that benefit all Utah schoolchildren.

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