New Study Finds School Choice Does No Harm to Public Education

Feb 29, 2012, 12:06 ET from The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Public schools throughout the country are not harmed by school choice programs as most of their costs are flexible and can change with student enrollment, according to a new report issued by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The report entitled "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.

"This means when public schools lose students to a school that better meets their needs, there is no fiscal harm," said Ben Scafidi, a senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation and author of the report. "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 showed that if school systems retain 36 percent of the funds to educate each student when children leave, then they will be able to fund "fixed" costs that remain with school systems. "Fixed" costs are related to buildings and other capital investments. "Variable" costs cover instruction, curriculum and other related costs.

The report estimates that the average spending per child across the United States was $12,450 during the 2008-09 academic year. Fixed costs account for about $4,482 per student on average.

"If districts have school choice programs and lose a few hundred children, they really are benefiting financially because they keep many of the dollars spent on each child," said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. "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.

"It's like when children go off to college; families usually reduce household spending," he said. "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.

To read the full report, visit our website at:

About The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman's vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the Foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to choice in K-12 education.




SOURCE The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice