… away funding from public schools- leaving the rest of the students in schools with less money, fewer teachers, and even more problems.

Today’s Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Schools have a $39 million budget shortfall and, as a result, Superintendent Rosa Blackwell (yes, Ken’s wife) plans to lay off 115 teachers and counselors.

So where did the money go? Solve the following story problem (using your public-school math skills) to find the answer:

Ohio Revised Code, 3317.012, establishes a per-pupil cost of $5,403 for the 2007 school year. Cincinnati’s 27 charter schools have an enrollment of 7,029 students. Calculate how much money Cincinnati’s public schools have lost to the Charter Schools.

The answer: almost $39 Million.

  • Of course they have less money- Because they have fewer customers! The problem with public schools is that they haven’t been exposed to these market forces enough. Students don’t have to leave public schools, and its entirely possible that public schools would improve enough to encourage more students to attend. But there also needs to be the possibility that they will lose business or go out of business if they don’t meet the standards that parents have.

  • I agree that teaching, like every other profession, should have some method for measuring the performance of its practitioners.

    And schools, like other organizations, should have some mechanism for measuring their success- i.e. their ability to educate our children.

    But schools are not businesses, teachers are not salespeople and students are not random consumers looking for a better tasting hamburger or a cheaper HD TV.

    The free-market methaphor only goes so far.

    I am, in most cases, an advocate of the libertarian perspective.

    Private, for-profit schools should never be illegal- even if they compete with public schools. And no child should ever be forbidden from attending a private school.

    But the right to attend a private school DOES NOT preclude the need for a high-quality, publicly funded education system for the rest us.

  • Colleges and universities are businesses, and it is long overdue for schools to be treated the same way. The consumers would be the parents, looking for the best education for their children.

    And when vouchers and school choice encourage schools to improve and to become more efficient- That isn’t a free-market metaphor. That is the glorious free market in action.

    And it is incredibly unfair to tell parents that they will only be able to send their children to private schools if they can also afford their tax bill for public schools. If taxpayers are going to be forced to pay for education, parents should be able to direct that money to benefit their children- Regardless of what school they go to.

    By supporting school choice, I’m not saying private schools or charter schools are better than public schools. Both types of schools should exist in as many communities as possible, so parents have better chance of making sure their children receive a quality education.

    And on a side note, if you are a libertarian, you and I supposedly agree quite often. That may hurt your Plunderbund street cred.

  • You can’t really compare colleges and universities to regular schools.

    They are not the same.

    Colleges and Universities are for adult students who are able to make choices about which school to attend, which degree
    to pursue, etc. And, ultimately, the students are responsible for the cost of their own higher education.

    I agree that a College or University IS like a business. They do compete with other schools for the best students.

    They can also choose which programs to offer based on projected enrollment.

    And, also like a business, they have many other revenue sources besides tuition. At Ohio State, for example, tuition and fees make up only 19% of their total revenue.

    Regular grade/high schools don’t have these options because their role is different.

    They are not producing doctors, scientists or teachers. They are producing educated adults.

  • Modern Esquire

    Except that Matty, everyone has to pay property taxes, even people who have no children in school (public, private, charter) at all.

    People have to pay taxes for services they will likely never receive. That’s what a broad tax base does.

    And, of course, let’s not forget that Ken’s wife just got a massive raise before having to make these cuts.

    If Rosa Blackwell can’t get Cincinnati Public Schools to “compete” why is she getting a raise while others are losing their jobs? Sounds to me like she was private sector executive pay in the public sector.

    School districts can’t “go out of business” and comparing public schools to universities is an irrational comparison. First of all, all children are guaranteed a primary and secondary education and are required by law to attend until a certain age with very few exceptions.

    So there will always have to be public schools to take the kids who charter and private schools won’t take or who’s parents, vouchers or no, cannot afford to pay for their child’s education.

    What should be discussed is where these kids are going. Cincinnati has a number of fine private schools (St. X.), but also some rather sketchy charter schools.

    I’m not a huge fan of vouchers, but I don’t get nearly worked up about them as much as I do with Ohio’s horrible charter school system. It is almost criminal what kind of charter schools Ohio has allowed to operate. Some of these charter schools seem like nothing more than glorified day care centers.

  • And on a side note, if you are a libertarian, you and I supposedly agree quite often. That may hurt your Plunderbund street cred.

    Matt, as someone who used to self-identify as a liberal libertarian (and now as a libertarian liberal, with strong attraction to libertarian socialist philosophies), you and I agree alarmingly infrequently.

    Where libertarians have it wrong is they (amusingly) fail to realize that money = power. It’s all well and good to talk about people entering contracts freely, with the government only intervening to prevent the use of force, but when one party is a multinational and the other is “average Joe” Jim-Bob Smith, contract negotiations cannot occur in a fair and equitable way. The multinational uses it’s money to force the terms of the contract to what they want, not some mutually negotiated set of terms. That is use of force.

    As for vouchers, I’m opposed to them primarily because the private/charter schools are so terrible in Ohio. Public education should result in functional, educated adults. Opting out of real science classes by going to Harvest Prep results in adults incapable of functioning at an adequate level in the Real World.

    Vouchers don’t fix struggling schools – they make them worse.

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