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The Misleading and Dishonest Arguments of Education Choice Opponents: Fiscal Impact

TCCRI's paper published earlier this year, Outstanding Opportunities: The Case for Education Choice in the Lone Star State, contains several sections that either debunk arguments made by choice opponents or highlight how choice opponents misrepresent information. Below is an excerpt from the Report to that effect.


The Fiscal Impact of Choice Programs

No single issue around education choice has been studied more than the fiscal effects of education choice programs. An astounding 73 empirical studies have looked at whether education choice programs generate net savings, net costs, or are cost-neutral.

The results are beyond question. 68 of 73 studies (93%) found that choice programs created savings for taxpayers. Four studies found that the programs were cost-neutral. Only five studies found that choice programs resulted in net costs. The results are as follows:

How Opponents of Choice Misrepresent This Data

As is the case with most of these datasets, opponents of choice have a difficult time rebutting overwhelming evidence showing that choice programs are far more cost-effective than funding for traditional public schools. It makes them resort to distortions and half-truths. Once again, look to Raise Your Hand Texas for excellent examples. To support the assertion that “Voucher Programs Have a History of Ballooning State Costs,” they simply assert that “In 2021, seven states expanded their voucher program eligibility to include higher-income families or students with no history of public school attendance,” which “cost[s] the state more money.” Well, yes. Expanded programs use more money, but those dollars are already appropriated for education, so the claim that “costs balloon” is dubious and unsupported. It is a slight of hand rhetorical argument that falls apart upon examination.

Raise Your Hand Texas makes the same mistake when they assert that “Ohio’s largest voucher program . . . has more than doubled in costs to the state, ballooning from $175 million to $444 million in the last seven years. Of course, the only source Raise Your Hand Texas cites is Ohio’s Scholarship Payments Report system, which is not a “source,” but rather a tool you can use to see how utilized the program actually is. Turns out, the program is quite popular among parents and students! And according to the studies cited by Ed Choice, the more they are utilized, the more money Ohio saves on net.

In short, the argument leaned upon by Raise Your Hand Texas and others is a misrepresentation and it is unsupported by facts. Education dollars are education dollars. And if a choice program is more efficient than traditional public school funding, every expansion of the program is a net saving.

You can read this entire section and the full paper here.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note that citations have been omitted from this post but are present in the full report linked above.


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