The school choice argument finds its basis on two philosophically different views. On one hand, opponents of school choice argue that if money is reallocated from a particular school system, then the school will have a depletion of funds, reducing the quality in education. Whereas, the proponents argue that if we allow parents to decide where their children attend school, then the student will ultimately receive a better education, weeding out failing schools and looking to effective schools as well as alternative options such as online learning, homeschooling, and charter schools for educational resources.
When looking at data, one draws the conclusion that our school systems, primarily looking at Texas, are focused more on the administrative costs rather than paying quality teachers and providing efficient education. Here are some stats to keep in mind (information derived from a compilation by Americans for Prosperity in the article “Education Dollars can be Cut without Cutting into Classrooms”):
- Within last decade, public school funding rose nearly five times faster than enrollment (Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts).
- Dropout rate in Texas is more than 20% on average and as much as 40% in some school districts (Source: Texas Education Agency 2009 School District Snapshot).
- About 65% of Texas public school students take the SAT or ACT—but of that, only about 27% meet or exceed criterion (Source: Texas Education Agency 2009 School District Snapshot).
- State-wide, teachers earn an average of $9,000 a year less than “other professional staff,” $22,000 less than school administrators and $38,000 less than central administration staff (Sources: TEA 2009 Snapshot; TEA 2009 Superintendent Salary Report).
- School districts in Texas carry a combined total of over $103 billion in outstanding debt (Source: Texas Bond Review Board—FY2009 ISD Debt).
Education impacts various aspects related to state budgets, parental oversight, quality education, work force skill sets, successful students, and economic stability. Public policy should come from the perspective of what is best for the student. The Heritage Foundation made a key point in the article “Morning Bell: Celebrating School Choice Week,” when stating “. . . school choice—empowering parents with the ability to save their children from failing schools. . . .” Parents have the inherent right, and should require it, to use their tax dollars to determine where their children attend school. School choice results in competition. A competitive market will develop quality service based on merit rather than overburdened administration that stifles effective education.