Here's an interesting letter about private school costs in Wake County and school vouchers from Karl Gaskins in Raleigh. It's too long for print but worth a read.
I googled private schools wake county. There were 83 results listed on one site. After I eliminated those that were nursery-kindergarten enterprises, I essayed to discover what tuitions were charged by the remainder. I was able to find, online, tuition information for about 43 schools, with a total enrollment of 16,473. I listed their tuition for the youngest elementary grade class they offered. I separated them into two groups: below $10,000 tuition (35 schools) and above $10,000 tuition (eight schools). Here is what I discovered:
Of the 35 under $10,000 schools, eight were less than $5,000, but not by much. They averaged $4,186. Enrollment was 1,289, or 7.8 percent of total.
The schools under $10,000 averaged $6,104. Not $4,900 as claimed by voucher supporters.
The schools over $10,000 averaged $15,998.
Tuition is not the only expense you encounter at a private school. Here are numbers published by one Christian school I examined:
New Student Application $100.
Resource Fee $480.
Capital Fee $360.
New Family Fee $500.
That’s over $8,000. For the first year.
Transportation to and from most schools is not provided.
There are unpaid efforts being made by teachers and others in many public schools in this state to package foodstuffs for some kids to take home for the weekend, because they would otherwise have little or nothing to eat until Monday when they get their breakfast at school. No one at home is making sure they do their homework. No one at home cares how they do at school.
What good is a $4,200 voucher to one of these kids? If the people they live with can’t or won’t keep them from going hungry, what is the likelihood they’ll come up with an average of $1,700 a year each, plus fees, to put them into private school and provide transportation for them to get there and back every day? There is not enough financial aid out there to offset this difference. What is the likelihood that these folks will start monitoring homework? What is the likelihood they’ll begin to encourage their kids to do well in school? Aren’t these the kids for whom a good education is most important, and most difficult to obtain, even when it’s “free”?
Many people further up the economic ladder would do everything they could to come up with the tuition difference, in hopes that their kids could get the most out of their education. But those kids are going to succeed in public school, because their parents are behind them and encouraging them and their teachers. These motivated parents and kids are critical to the success of public education. Their attitudes create and support the learning environment educators strive to provide.
I can’t think of any good reasons to reallocate resources from public schools to private schools. Characterizing this action as a business model in which competition is encouraged is cynical to the point of being venal. Encouraging the departure of motivated parents and students from public schools won’t make public schools more competitive. It will gut them. What football coach kicks his first string off the team and plays his third string because their less developed football knowledge, skills and motivation will enable them to perform better than the first string?
I am so old I attended segregated schools. Back then, private schools of any kind were few and far between, and were mostly either parochial schools or kindergartens. Do you remember when and why the big growth spurt in private schools across the South began? I certainly do. Lots of them called themselves Christian academies. Almost three-fourths of those schools I just looked at claim religious affiliation.
Vouchers aren’t for subsidizing better education for truly poor kids. They’re for subsidizing a second school system for the nice people, and for keeping those denizens of public schools who insist on being poor and ignorant exactly where they belong.