The budget hole this year at the state capitol is big, and next year's hole could be even bigger. But consider how much worse things would be if private-school parents weren't saving taxpayers a small fortune.
According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education (Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Private School Universe Survey), there are some 300 private schools in Oklahoma serving approximately 34,354 elementary and secondary students.
What would happen if all these kids showed up at their local public school Monday morning? ("I'm here for my free education, please.") In order to maintain the current per-pupil expenditure in the public schools, 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.
Politicians facing tough fiscal choices should be grateful for the many parents who are choosing to educate children on their own nickel, and should encourage this behavior by providing a school-choice tax credit.