As the issue of school vouchers goes to the ballots in Utah, a landmark new study finds that school choice programs throughout the country generated nearly $444 million in net savings to state and local budgets from 1990 to 2006. Contrary to opponents’ predictions, the analysis also finds that instructional spending per student has consistently gone up in all affected public school districts and states.
“School choice saves. It saves children, and now we have empirical evidence that it saves money,” said Robert Enlow, executive director and COO of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. “In the face of $444 million in savings, another excuse to deny children a quality education has vanished before our eyes.”
Released by the Friedman Foundation, “Education by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006” provides the first comprehensive analysis of how the nation’s school choice programs have affected state and public school districts. Of the 12 voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs that began operations before 2006, every program is at least fiscally neutral, and most produce substantial savings.
“Opponents here in Utah claim that school vouchers will reduce spending in public schools. Yet the study’s analysis of the states where school choice is available finds that this is not the case,” said Paul T. Mero, president of Sutherland Institute. “A recent study calculated that, if supported by the voters, school vouchers could save Utah about $700,000 each year, and save local public school districts $26 million each year.”
“Opponents of educational freedom will find it tougher to bend the truth. Our research adheres to the highest standards of scientific rigor,” said Enlow. “We’ve seen seven school choice programs start in just the last year because evidence of the benefits are growing just as rapidly.”