May 9, 2007
Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation
Think Tank Review:
May 24, 2007
University of Kansas
This review considers the recently released study by Susan Aud of the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, concerning the fiscal effects of school vouchers policies. Aud calculates the simple difference between, on the one hand, state and local government spending on students attending traditional public schools, and, on the other, the government spending on children opting for vouchers to private schools. Aud finds a cumulative savings of $444 million over a 15-year period nationwide. Aud’s analysis does confirm an obvious point: if state and local governments subsidize vouchers at a lower rate than public schooling, then, all other things being equal, state and local expenditures will decrease. Aud argues in particular that vouchers offer a win-win scenario for local school districts, suggesting that districts losing students to vouchers may simultaneously increase spending per pupil on those left behind while, at the same time, decreasing spending overall. This review concludes that Aud’s assumption of increased per-pupil spending by school districts might be true, but the assumption of decreased total budget likely is not. Further, even if state and local governments were, in fact, able to reduce instructional expenses by $444 million over 15 years, this was merely a drop in the bucket – she describes a savings of less than 1/100th of one percent of annual public school spending, or about 60 cents per child per year.