… school choice has existed for decades, those with more money simply move to get better schools (or at least what they perceive as better schools). The reverse is true, people don’t move into areas where the schools are bad. A school voucher system in St. Louis … would allow someone to live in the city with less concern about the state of the public school system.
Presumably if people could live in the city but avoid the public schools, then more people would live in the city and there would be more tax dollars for public schools which them might…might…get better.
Well, I think vouchers are what they always were, a means for the almost-rich to get another leg up on all those below them on the ladder of success, a leg up paid for by those who are poorer than they are. So let’s look at a few numbers…
Folks are eager to talk about vouchers, but seldom do they actually spell out the specifics, especially not in print where someone can check them out. But I keep hearing that people would get $2,000 or $2,500 per year per child (and sometimes they go as high as $5,000). So just what will that do for all those disadvantaged families who will now have a chance to get as good an education as their suburbanite brethren?
Tamika is a single mom in north St. Louis with two kids, one in jr high and one in high school. She gets twice minimum wage and after taxes and deductions gets about $10,000 take home a year. She pays $300 a month for an apartment, $300 a month for food, and $200 a month for utilities and clothes and everything else, and nothing for entertainment. That’s $9,600 a year, and she’s got $400 a year to pay for private school for her two kids.
Tiffany is married and living in Chesterfield with two kids, one in jr high and one in high school. They both work and have a combined income of $130,000 a year, and around $100,000 take home. They pay $20,000 a year on their mortgage (after getting to deduct all that interest) and $50,000 a year for food and utilities (and they get to spend money on entertainment). That leaves them $20,000 a year for private school tuition.
So what would that private school tuition be? Well, I took a look at St. Louis Parent Magazing (available for free every month at your local grocery store). In the last few months they have been concentrating on summer camp, but last October they listed local private schools and their tuition rates. I’m going to use the maximum rate because the lowest rates are usually for two or three days a week for pre-kindergarden, which would give a wealthy suburbanite mom a wonderful break from the kids, but wouldn’t do much for a working mother who needs someone to take care of her kids every day while she’s at work.
|Academy of the Sacred Heart||$6,250|
|Chesterfield Day School||$13,309|
|The College School||$11,435|
|Rohan Woods School||$11,850|
|School District of Clayton||$12,450|
|St. Michael School||$9,975|
|John Burroughs School||$17,000|
|Thomas Jefferson School||$17,800|
Hmm, Tamika is screwed, no matter what. No way she can take advantage of any voucher that doesn’t cover pretty much the full cost of tuition, school supplies, lunch, and transportation to get there and back.
But Tiffany is gloriously happy. The greater the voucher, the better the school she can send her kids to.
And no matter how intelligent Tamika’s kids may be, they will be stuck in the public school, which will get less and less money and provide a worse and worse education as funding is all taken away by the middle and upper classes to send their kids off to private school.
I wonder if that’s how it was all designed?