Last week, the Indiana Senate passed the biggest school voucher program in the country. The voucher program would apply to families with incomes under a certain level (for a family of four, $61,000.)
Vouchers will also be capped at $4,500 per student, less than half of what Indiana public schools spend. But if Washington DC’s experimental voucher program is a guide, voucher schools will still get better results with half the money.
How can privately run schools be that much better? Economist Don Boudreaux drew an insightful analogy on his blog this week:
Suppose that we were supplied with groceries in same way that we are supplied with K-12 education.
Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. A huge chunk of these tax receipts would then be spent by government officials on building and operating supermarkets. County residents, depending upon their specific residential addresses, would be assigned to a particular supermarket. Each family could then get its weekly allotment of groceries for “free.” (Department of Supermarket officials would no doubt be charged with the responsibility for determining the amounts and kinds of groceries that families of different types and sizes are entitled to receive.)
…When the quality of supermarkets is recognized by nearly everyone to be dismal, the resulting calls for “supermarket choice” would be rejected by a coalition of greedy government-supermarket workers and ideologically benighted collectivists as attempts to cheat supermarket customers out of good supermarket service -- indeed, as attempts to deny ordinary families the food that they need for their very survival.
That’s where the government-run education system stands now. Good for Indiana for increasing school choice.