Friday, July 15, 2005

Brownback backs off

The WaPo editorializes today that it's a good thing the Senator from Kansas backed off his effort to expand the voucher program outside the city limit and lift the $7,500 limit to the vouchers:

...[T]he federal program is still in its five-year trial period; the first group of nearly 1,000 low-income voucher students enrolled only last fall. Initiating a major change such as what Mr. Brownback proposes might be premature, especially since the existing experiment has not been fully evaluated.


This is one of the biggest problems with reformers of all stripes. Moderate success can turn into disaster when things are rushed. Expanding a program after its first year of trial is not a good idea.

According to officials of the Washington Scholarship Fund, the nonprofit organization that operates the voucher program, as many as 80 students offered scholarships for this fall may be unable to use them because private high schools in the District lack space. The space crunch will only worsen as elementary school students now enrolled in the program move up into higher grades. Concern about the capacity of D.C. private schools to accommodate the demand is, therefore, well-founded. It appears, however, that at this point in the year any congressional action to change the program's rules will not occur in time to assist voucher recipients looking for high schools this fall. For that reason, too, Mr. Brownback was right to hold off.

This will continue to be a problem for voucher proponents. Well established, solid private schools only have so much space. If the program expands too rapidly it is undeniable that all manner of shady educapitalists will rush in to fill the void. For all those conservatives who think public schools waste public money, wait'll you get a load of those guys. It wouldn't be pretty.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Miller Smith said...

The "rules" are the problem. Want to really see what kinds of schools do the best for the average student? Give a full value voucher to all parents that want them to be used where and how they wish.

Do that and we will see public schools empty in two years.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

Mr Smith,

Just what most of suburbia does not want is to be wait listed at the few college prep high schools while funding and support is pulled from the suburban high school that produce most of the college students in the US.

All of the college prep high schools in the Washington, DC area are wait listed now. What do you plan on creating more.

PS, most of those in private schools would fall over themselves to get their kids into the public college prep like Thomas Jefferson in Fairfax Virginia.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Miller Smith said...

Simple economics will solve the problem. I and other teacher like me will start our own schools.

When the huge sums of voucher money are available and the huge numbers of unsatisfied parents want out, opening new private schools will be very easy to do.

Imagine if we had government run "free" grocery stores. All you will have is the upscale stores or religious stores operating since a "regular" gocery store can't compete with "free." The moment that I can compete with the government store by the issuance of a voucher so people may shop where they wish, the government restrictions by committee inside government stores will drive "regular" people to shop at my store where the customer is number one and I don't need to have a committee to determine what products to put on my shelves.

When the money is released, the schools will pop up all over. Quite a large group of teachers I work with have worked on a business plan for quite a while now. We can use vacant commercial space, give each child a membership to a health club, hire teachers and pay them by performance, and so on. Very easy.

You assume a static statist model where there is no change in supply regardless of demand. Why do you think that everything else in your life responds to demand and education will not?

10:08 AM  

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