Accelerating the Decline of American Education,
at a Time One School
As one looks at American economic dominance from the late 19th century to the early part of the 21st century it is clear that one cause and component of the incredible economic level of activity is the nation’s commitment to free public education. Although never enshrined in the Constitution, for decades an entitlement of American life has been a free public education through grade 12 for every child living in this country.
Conservatives hate this feature of American society. Public education requires taxes and there is nothing worse than taxes for Conservatives. And public education requires public employees, and that is also a dreadful thing. Finally, public education is non-sectarian and this violates Conservative dogma which is that government should support religion, as long, of course, as it is the right religion.
This is not to say that Conservatives are opposed to education. What they want is for the private sector to provide education and for parents to have a significant financial burden, thus lowering the taxes needed from wealthy. And they see no problem with using taxpayer dollars to support schools sponsored by religious entities and that teach and promote their particular religion.
The mechanism by which Conservatives will destroy public education is the ‘voucher’. This is a device which allows a parent to remove their child from a public school and take public money to pay the tuition at a private school. And the use of vouchers is increasing.
As one might expect, the economics behind the program are appealing and false.
Mr. White said the state's current voucher program has saved money, because the state spends about $8,500 a pupil to educate public-school students in New Orleans, but is spending only about $4,500 on average for voucher students.
The problem (which Conservatives probably know) is that the costs of education are largely fixed costs. This means that when a small percentage of students leave a school and take funding with them, the costs of continuing to operate the school do not change. So the school has less resources but the same costs. Ultimately the school will have to fire teachers (lazy shiftless public employees to Conservatives) and reduce the quality of education for those left behind.
Taken to its extreme, with every student in a state given a voucher, sectarian private schools and for profit private schools will take the better, more affluent students. The rest, well, the nation always needs more ditch diggers. Will this work, just wait until greedy voters see the tax reductions.