School choice solution to Kansas school funding

In its search to find a solution to the problem of funding its government schools, Kansas is overlooking a sure solution: widespread school choice.

While proponents of public school spending argue that school choice programs drain away dollars from needy, underfunded public schools, this is not the case.

In 2007 The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released the study School Choice by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006. According to the executive summary: “Every existing school choice program is at least fiscally neutral, and most produce a substantial savings.”

How can this be? The public school spending lobby, which in Kansas is primarily the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA, the teachers union) and the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), would have us believe that educational freedom would kill public education. They say that school choice program drain scarce resources from the public school system.

But when researchers looked at the actual effects, they found this: “In nearly every school choice program, the dollar value of the voucher or scholarship is less than or equal to the state’s formula spending per student. This means states are spending the same amount or less on students in school choice programs than they would have spent on the same students if they had attended public schools, producing a fiscal savings.”

So at the state level, school choice programs save money. They don’t cost money to implement; they save money.

At the local level, schools districts have more money, on a per-student basis, when school choice programs are used: “When a student uses school choice, the local public school district no longer needs to pay the instructional costs associated with that student, but it does not lose all of its per-student revenue, because some revenue does not vary with enrollment levels. Thus, school choice produces a positive fiscal impact for school districts as well as for state budgets.”

According to news reports, no Kansas legislators are proposing school choice programs — not even an expansion of charter schools — as a solution to school finance. Sam Brownback, Republican candidate for governor, does not include school choice in his program to reform Kansas education. Democratic candidate Tom Holland proposes more spending on the current failing system.

Only Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Gray proposes school choice, through the Kansas Education Liberty Act.


  • Thanks for including a note about the Andrew Gray Campaign and the Kansas Education Liberty Act (KELA). It should also be noted that after reading KELA the The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice even flew in a representative to meet our team. They believe our bill is one of the most comprehensive in the nation and now point other states to the language in our bill as model legislation. Our entire bill is available on our campaign website at:

  • The cost of special education is one of the real problems when it comes to funding. While there is one standard per-pupil allotment in the funding formula, the reality is that it can cost much less to educate a regular student and much more to “adequately” educate some special ed students. School choice–where the money follows the child–would not only result in schools that specialize in certain things, like dyslexia; but would necessarily lower the cost to educate these kids due to free market competition. (Research shows that dyslexia affects 15-20% of the population, and yet these students are virtually ignored in KS public schools. About 90% of prison inmates are functionally illiterate, and I would venture a guess that many within that statistic are dyslexic.) And no, I’m not the least bit concerned about allowing schools in business to make a profit to participate in educating K-12 students. For better or worse, parents would be the ones determining if their child was receiving a proper education, as it should be.

  • The quicker Kansas libertarians detach themselves from the hind teat of monopolistic dog-eat-dog capitalism, forcefully decry and actively oppose the monopolists’ foreign wars abroad for empire and raise their eloquent voices for the poor and working folks; the sweeter the milk from their Labor. Until then, the tragedy of the first two principled tenets of international libertarianism; “individual liberty” and “limited government” will be but rags draping the dust covered whore slaving for vampires.

    While I study with a deep appreciation of your Labor at this site, albeit with a skeptical eye, there is little here to help educate those at the bottom looking up and working. Instead more moronic platitudes from self-correcting “libertarians” as Friedman, Greenspan and the money changers, the charlatans for inherited and accumulated wealth.

    BTW where is Bill Kaufman’s books, writings, or any serious discussion about him here on your site, Mr. Weeks? Less clowning around with hocus-pocus mathmetics and more blood and guts. First and foremost, Stop the Wars for Empire! There is no choice.

  • To Michael Caddell. I liked what you wrote. The libertarians will not grow balls and speak out. Even at these hijacked “Tea Parties”, the libertarian groups sit in the corner. You can not blame Mr. Weeks for any of this. Do not shoot the messanger.

    I do believe in ending these endless wars and the military industrial complex. This story is about public education. That should end too because it is a form of communism.

    I find fault with your comment about poor vs. rich. maybe I have misunderstood it, buy you can not see it that way. it depends on who we are calling “rich” and how they became “rich”. people who are “well to do” usually are the ones to sign paychecks or pay you for services.

    What we have in this country is not fascism, communism or socialism. All these republicrats and dim-o-cant’s are corporatists. Some corporations are good but most are scumbags.

  • Hi

    I agree with the TRULY anonymous Anonymous in this part: “I find fault with your comment about poor vs. rich. maybe I have misunderstood it, buy you can not see it that way. it depends on who we are calling “rich” and how they became “rich”. people who are “well to do” usually are the ones to sign paychecks or pay you for services. ”

    The people paying for our government and way of life in general are the workers and owners of private industry. When someone in industry pays taxes, you actually get 30% of their income without the government investing a cent. When a government worker pays taxes, you pay them 100% of their salary from our taxes (or from the Chinese) and get 30% back at the end of the year loosing 70% of private industry’s hard earned tax dollars. In the long run (probably pretty quick) adding government jobs is a loosing proposition. That’s what the Soviets did, anybody remember them?



  • […] Blogger Bob Weeks of Wichita has offered his own strong opinion concerning the idea of school choice. – [Governor Mark] Parkinson doesn’t see the ongoing discussion about the funding formula as […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

  • Kansas school spending, through 2020

  • Kansas school employment

  • Performance levels in Wichita schools

  • Kansas school salaries

  • Wichita public schools, by the charts

%d bloggers like this: