New report tells old truth: School choice saves money

Florida parents rally in the capitol complex for the ability to pick the best option for their children regardless of their ZIP code during National School Choice Week.

Editor’s note: This commentary from EdChoice director of national research and reimaginED guest blogger Mike McShane appeared Thursday on forbes.com. Be sure to check back Monday to listen to a podcast with McShane conducted by reimaginED executive editor Matt Ladner.

 School choice is having a moment right now.

2021 yielded a bumper crop of school choice legislation. The idea of parental voice and parental choice has rocketed to the forefront of the political debate, to the point of potentially tipping elections.

Max Weber said that politics is “the strong and slow boring of hard boards.”

Changing public policy requires changing people’s minds, then encouraging them to act, then responding to others who think differently, then revising plans, and on and on and on.

While electoral victories can be invigorating in the short term, anyone who has observed government and society for any length of time knows that real, durable change takes years of strong and slow boring.

Amidst the fervor and the fanfare, careful, methodical thinking is more important than ever.

To that end, my colleague Marty Lueken, director of the Fiscal Research and Education Center at EdChoice, has published an authoritative examination of the fiscal impact of private school choice programs. After examining 40 different programs in different states and at different times, he estimates that they have generated between $12.4 billion and $28.3 billion in net fiscal savings.

This works out to between $3,300 and $7,500 per participating student or $1.80 to $2.85 saved per dollar spent, depending on how you want to look at it.

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