Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  “Bold, Persistent Experimentationâ€�

Posted by: Fran Wed. 9/21/2005 3:35 PM

Rich has some very interesting arguments concerning Democratic attempts to keep the welfare state alive.

He states:

One argument that has always been advanced to block aid to poor families who want to send their children to private schools is that, in effect, the government can't afford it; it will starve public schools of funding….

… That's hard to see when President Bush increased federal education spending 65 percent during his first term.

The objection to these Bush proposals isn't fiscal, but philosophical. They serve to undermine the principle of government dependency that underpins the contemporary welfare state, and to which liberals are utterly devoted. In a reversal of the old parable, liberals don't want to teach people how to fish if they can just give them federally funded seafood dishes instead.

Why does this argument persist? Is it foolish to admit that giving school vouchers, (that cover at most 3/5ths of the cost), to poor families is disingenuous at best, if not spiteful. The families are by definition…poor: having little or no wealth and few or no possessions.

He then states:

The education vouchers, meanwhile, make private school available to kids who had suffered in the atrocious New Orleans public system and help preserve the choice many families had already made. Out of 248,000 students in the broader New Orleans area, 61,000 went to private schools. Opponents of the voucher proposals want to say to bereft families of those private-school students, "Congratulations, you lost everything, and we hope your children now get trapped in public schools on top of it."

Opponents of the voucher system might accept it if it was fully funded. If the really poor families of New Orleans, (and why not the rest of the country), want to go to private schools, why not fully fund it? Ithe argument is serious.

A table from the CATO Institute reflects the true costs, if you allow for non-sectarian schools. However, their argument does not include non-subsidized costs born by sectarian and public schools alike.

Table 1

Private School Tuition, by Type of School and Level: 1993-94

Average Type of School

Tuition ($)

All private schools








Catholic Schools






Other religious schools








Nonsectarian Schools








It seems like the argument doesn't support a parents right to choose which school they'd like to send their kids to.

1. What about transportation costs specific to Louisiana?

2. Extra curricular activities…costs and transportation?

3. What about books and supplies?

Louisiana has much more info regarding the legislature appropriating funds for books, transportation costs. Don't forget…the money has to be appropriated…it's not guaranteed.

To suggest average cost is not being honest.

There's many groups that study the costs of public vs. private education. Another view is here. It seems that their view is directed towards the parents and actual costs...not the basis of dogmatic argument.

What's it going to cost? It varies widely, but according to the Washington Federation of Independent Schools 2004 survey, the average annual private-school tuition runs about: • $5,095 for first- through fourth-grade students; • $6,109 for fifth- through eighth-graders; • $8,249 for ninth- through 12th-graders. These are statewide averages. Figures are higher in Western Washington; three of out four private schools in Washington are on the state's west side. Tuition at least three Puget Sound area schools tops $19,000.

All in all the best I can say for Lowry is that he's pushing a conservative agenda. The figures just above aren't from Louisiana, but I'm sure they're geared towards a middle to upper middle class income in the state of Washington. How the poor people of New Orleans are going to meet the cost of private schools when they can't meet the basic costs of owning a car is beyond me.

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