Thursday, April 3, 2008

Saving taxpayers a small fortune

State lawmakers at 23rd and Lincoln are telling us the budget is tight this year. But consider how much worse it would be if private school parents and homeschoolers weren't saving taxpayers a small fortune.

According to newly released results from the feds' latest Private School Universe Survey, 29,899 students attend private elementary and secondary schools in Oklahoma. Informed estimates place the number of Oklahoma homeschoolers at 14,000 to 25,000.

So let's say there are 50,000 Oklahoma schoolchildren whose parents are paying for their education. What would happen if these 50,000 kids showed up at their local public school tomorrow morning? ("I'm here for my free education, please.") In order to maintain the current per-pupil expenditure of $7,419 (of which 52 percent is state money, 34 percent local and county, and 14 percent federal), politicians would have to come up with a few hundred million more dollars every year. And that's not counting construction costs. I've seen estimates of $15,000 to $35,000 per seat for a child in public school.

Taxpayers and policy-makers should be grateful to the many parents who are choosing to educate children on their own nickel.

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