(WSJ) Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills

Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year””not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn’t charge kids to participate.

Budget shortfalls have prompted Medina Senior High to impose fees on students who enroll in many academic classes and extracurricular activities. The Dombis had to pay to register their children for basic courses such as Spanish I and Earth Sciences, to get them into graded electives such as band, and to allow them to run cross-country and track. The family’s total tab for a year of public education: [ ].

“I’m wondering, am I going to be paying for my parking spot at the school? Because you’re making me pay for just about everything else,” says Ms. Dombi, a parent in this middle-class community in northern Ohio.

You need to guess how much it cost them for 3 children for one year; then read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

26 comments on “(WSJ) Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills

  1. Catholic Mom says:

    This is the absurdity of the tax cutting position. Cutting taxes doesn’t mean a thing unless you give up the things the taxes were paying for. Otherwise you’re just taking the expense off the government ledger and pushing it down to the individual taxpayer. Governor Christie, so beloved of conservatives outside of NJ, is slashing aid to schools and townships on a huge variety of things. But guess what — those things still have to be paid for. So the townships and the schools push the cost down to the individuals which is NOT net-neutral because 1) paying for something out of pocket is not deductible on your federal taxes and 2) school tax is turned into a user-fee which is not shared by people who don’t have kids in school which undercuts the whole idea of public education on which America was built.

    These folks in Texas would be a lot better off if they were paying their $4k in taxes rather than being nickled and dimed out of it by the school system. They can’t deduct it, it creates a multi-tiered system of privilege in the same school (some kids can afford to play in the band, some can’t) and shifts school expenses from all taxpayers to just parents. But hey — that’s what Texans want. What people in NJ are figuring it out is that when you elect a governor who tells you that he’s going to slash taxes, you better prepare for a huge hit to your wallet.

  2. Paula Loughlin says:

    I have zero sympathy for the school systems here. Why? Because at the same time when they tell parents to bring in extra supplies to help those who can’t buy the basics they always manage to find money for more computers, and other “essentials.” Essentials such as auditoriums which would be the envy of most commercial theatres. Weight rooms that you would be lucky to find in a luxury gym. The schools constructed in the last few years resemble either a shopping mall or a maximum security prison. Neither come cheap.

    THe other place where no expense has been spared until recently is busing. The corner by my in laws house is a bus stop. Every day they see several buses pick up different lots of elementary school children. The big irony is that there is a school within a half mile of their house. But because of economic intergration laws the majority children must be bused outside of the neighborhood. We no longer have forced busing for racial intergration, the court ended their jurisdiction over that. We now must bus to make sure the schools reflect the economic demographics of the district. Clever right. That means no neighborhood schools unless the neighborhood is diversified. So the school district spends millions on busing every year so that first graders can be up at 6 am at the bus stop at 6:30 am and ride the bus for 90 minutes.

    Money for notebooks or pencils or paper. Forget it. You are told to bring extra to share. So the schools get no sympathy from me.

  3. Catholic Mom says:

    Your school district is so huge that you can ride a bus for 90 minutes to get to a school in the district??

    Most school districts in NJ are based on a single township which typically is not more than 5 miles wide. That’s actually a huge problem here. We have over 350 school districts in a state that is the 4th smallest in the union. Every district has to have its own superintendent making 250K as well as everything else a school district needs to run all by itself. There is a huge waste of money.

    Christie is pressuring the school districts to merge, but of course they don’t want to because we have enormous disparity in the quality of the schools here. Princeton, for example, which has some of the best schools in the nation, adjoins Lawrence, which has reasonably good but not great schools, which adjoins Trenton which has the worst schools in the state. Nobody is going to agree to merge with anybody else.

    I live in West Windsor (which abuts Princeton on the eastern side) and 30 years ago it merged its school district with Plainsboro to our immediate north. [We outrank Princeton which is why we’ll never merge with them!] And of course we bus within the district for economic diversity, but that’s because the parents would (rightly) scream to high heaven if we didn’t.

    For example, we have two high schools in the district [only because they needed to build a bigger school to accomodate the increasing population, not because they wanted separate schools.] One, just by coincidence, is in West Windsor and one is in Plainsboro. But they are both called “West Windsor-Plainsboro High School” being designated as “north” and “south” campus. Now if all the Plainsboro kids went to the one in Plainsboro and all the WW kids went to the one in WW, it wouldn’t be long before the school district would be torn apart. WW people would want all the resources to go to “their” school and Plainsboro would want all the resources to go to “their” school. So they send kids from BOTH WW and Plainsboro to the “north” and to the “south” campus. [Keep in mind these are still tiny townships. I live 6 minutes from “south” campus and 7 minutes from “north” campus so it’s irrelevant time-wise which school my kids go to.]

    Now, given that you’re going to mix it up residence-wise between the two townships, how are you going to do this? We have super-mega-McMansions and we have average-income rental apartments in both townships, as well as everything in between. Are you going to have one school where the McMansion dwellers go and one school where the apartment-dwellers go? No. Mainly because the people living in the average suburban homes would go nuts if they got stuck going to the “apartment dweller” school. (As they should considering that I, for example, living in a very modest 4 bedroom home pay $14k / So they use the tax maps to apportionate out the sending districts so there equal numbers of McMansioners and apartment dwellers in each school. If they weren’t doing it, people here would be going down and getting the tax maps themselves and trust me there would be holy heck to pay if somebody found out that one campus had significantly more kids from higher income (or at least higher property-evaluated) homes.

  4. Catholic Mom says:

    >> (As they should considering that I, for example, living in a very modest 4 bedroom home pay $14k /

    For some reason the whole thing got submitted just as I was editing this sentence. I meant to say that I pay $14/year in taxes and I expressly moved to WW to go to one of the best school systems in the country and I consider my taxes to be effectively my tuition. So you bet I’m going to be very unhappy if I find out that the district has “good” schools and “bad” schools and my kids are going to the bad school. I (and everyone else in the district) want the district to keep the quality of all the schools in the distrinct high and relatively equal and they have a number of ways of ensuring this, and apportioning sending areas on the basis of the average tax assessment of the homes in various neighborhoods is one of the ways they do this. Since the schools are only a few miles apart to begin with, it makes very little difference.

  5. JustOneVoice says:

    The comments in #3 and #4 show the problem is not how much is spent, but how it is spent.

  6. Catholic Mom says:

    Please explain your comment since I said nothing about how our school tax money is spent? How we identify sending neighborhoods has no impact on the cost of the busing in our district given that it consists of two small continguous townships. I could ride to every school in this district on a bike if I had to.

    However, we have historically had a program in this state called “outdoor ed” in which kids went away for three days during their middle school years to do intensive outdoor field work (biology, ecology, etc.). Christie cut all the money for this so now everybody in WW-P pays $250 out of pocket (not tax deductible) for this and everybody in Trenton just doesn’t go. If you want to do away with outdoor ed as a cost cutting measure, that’s one thing. But to keep it and just push the cost down to individual families and call that “tax relief” is just stupid. You push all the cost down to parents and then you spend a fortune trying to remediate the various economic and social problems associated with the fact that kids in Trenton have schools that most people wouldn’t send their dog to.

    My 12-year old is routinely told to create PowerPoint presentations, shoot (and edit) videos, create flash animations, design web pages, etc. as part of his regular (social studies, English) homework. Meanwhile the kids in Trenton are lucky to have some old hand-me-down computers in their computer lab which, due to Christie tax cuts, is now shut most of the time since they had to fire the teacher running it.

    Here’s the difference — we in WW-P are spending the same money on our kids as we did before, only now we can’t deduct it. The kids in Trenton are just screwed. And my taxes have not dropped by $1. It’s a shell game.

  7. Scatcatpdx says:

    “school tax is turned into a user-fee which is not shared by people who don’t have kids in school which undercuts the whole idea of public education on which America was built. “

    And what is wrong with that, I do not see any problem with it. Those who use are the ones who pay. Why should those who do not have kids and those who pay tuition, Ie. Catholic schools, be forced pay for schooling for your kids. The Idea of taxes rather than user fees, is not shared but an act of force on property and rights to pay for your kid’s education. Oh yes this is not way education was built, for the first 130 years schooling was a private voluntary matter, many churches opened schools as a part of ministry to the community.

  8. Catholic Mom says:

    I don’t know what you mean by “the first 130 years.” The first public elementary schools were opened in the 1700’s and the first public high school opened (in Boston) in 1820.

    We have public schools for the same reason that we have a public defense and public roads. We believe that 1) there is a national good involved and 2) it is most efficiently achieved by a pooling of money via taxation to pay for it.

    Ponder for just a minute what this country would be like if public schools were abolished. I’m not talking about vouchers here (I’m all for them). I’m talking about the fact that if you didn’t have x$ to educate your kids, they didn’t go to school. Think about the slums of London in the 1800’s. Remember what the Ghost of Christmas Present says in “A Christmas Carol.”

    “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

  9. JustOneVoice says:

    [blockquote]Every district has to have its own superintendent making 250K as well as everything else a school district needs to run all by itself. There is a huge waste of money. [/blockquote]

    When I read this I though you were getting to the real problem.

    [blockquote]I pay $14/year in taxes and I expressly moved to WW to go to one of the best school systems in the country and I consider my taxes to be effectively my tuition. So you bet I’m going to be very unhappy if I find out that the district has “good” schools and “bad” schools and my kids are going to the bad school. I (and everyone else in the district) want the district to keep the quality of all the schools in the distrinct high and relatively equal and they have a number of ways of ensuring this, and apportioning sending areas on the basis of the average tax assessment of the homes in various neighborhoods is one of the ways they do this. [/blockquote]
    You want your kids to go to better schools because you pay more. Yet:
    [blockquote]You push all the cost down to parents and then you spend a fortune trying to remediate the various economic and social problems associated with the fact that kids in Trenton have schools that most people wouldn’t send their dog to. [/blockquote]

    You recognize the problem with good and bad schools because of economic differences.

    Do some research and see how much is spent per student in NJ compared to other states. Then tell me why the cost cannot be cut.

    [url=http://www.joannejacobs.com/2010/07/u-s-schools-spend-10259-per-student/] U.S. schools spend $10,259 per student[/url]

    [blockquote]U.S. public schools spent $10,259 per student in 2007-08, according to a Census Bureau report. New York, topping the nation at $17,173 per student, spent roughly three times more than Utah, which spent only $5,765 per student.

    The national average represented a 6.1 percent increase over the year before.

    Other top spenders were New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), Vermont ($14,300) and Connecticut ($13,848). After Utah, low spenders were Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685) and Tennessee ($7,739).[/blockquote]

  10. Teatime2 says:

    I don’t know why you’re railing at Texas. This story is about a family/school in Ohio. In fact, do you see ANY Southern schools listed as examples of this practice in the sidebar? No, you don’t. Why?

    Namely, because the north is saddled with paying higher wages and benefits courtesy of the teachers and other unions. The difference between what a starting teaching in Texas makes and what a starting teacher in my home state of Pennsylvania makes is eye-popping. Yes, we have teachers unions in Texas BUT they have no negotiating or mediating power. Strikes are out of the question. The only reason you join one is for the legal and professional liability coverage if you’re accused of impropriety.

    No public school near me in Texas has charged crazy fees for extras. In one district where I taught, the assistant superintendent spent much of her time grant writing so we could get money for special and advanced academic programs. She successfully got a grant so I could start an AP English program at our school, and the grant helped to pay my salary, too, because I was teaching so many English sections.

    There are many foundations and even corporations that offer grant money to schools. You simply have to take the time to research and apply for it. And the crazy power of the unions in the North needs to be cut. I watched a documentary analyzing education in NJ and was gobsmacked. There is NO accountability! Bad teachers are never fired; embezzlement and hooking up friends with contracts is fairly common; and the system is routinely graduating kids who can’t read. The test scores in some of those districts were appalling.

    That simply wouldn’t fly in Texas. Three years of subpar test scores here means the state comes in and shuts you down, firing everyone, and bringing in another agency to run the schools — two years of bad scores, and the parents get a letter saying they have the right to send their kids to a neighboring school district free of charge. There is no tenure for teachers in Texas schools; you’re evaluated yearly and if you’re not doing the jo, you’re gone. You serve at the pleasure of the school board and, while you may be entitled to a hearing, a union lawyer will have no pull. I’ve never been through the process but, from what I’ve heard, you can kiss your teaching career in Texas goodbye if you’ve ever been fired.

    When unions have a strangehold on a business, efficiency, competence and the price of a product goes way up. It’s a shame that, in this case, that product is the education of our future.

  11. Catholic Mom says:

    Costs are high in NJ for a number of reasons.

    1. We’re one of the most expensive places in the country to live. We are the bedroom suburbs for the people who work on Wall Street who make x million dollars and that drives up the cost of everything. My homeowners insurance is huge because if my house burns down it is going to cost a fortune to build it again. If you can work on Wall Street even as a secretary for 50k, what are you going to have to pay people to get them to be teachers or to build your house?

    2. We value education extremely highly. NJ has a huge percentage of highly educated people. [Off the top of my head I would guess it’s the highest in the U.S.] They want their kids to go to MIT. They’re willing to pay the taxes necessary to have the kinds of schools that produce the kinds of students that get into MIT. My school district (WW-P) is 60% Asian. There is nothing they would rather spend their money on.

    3. The multiple school district situation is a massive money waster but we have a tiger by the tail and it’s not clear how the problem can be solved now. We can’t even share municipal services between townships. We can’t even share municipal services WITHIN towns! Princeton, for example, has a microscopic autonomous center “borough” surrounded by a larger “township.” They have two different town halls with two different governing bodies. It’s a miracle they worked out having one police department! That’s the way everything was set up 350 years ago when the town was founded and now the contentions around changing anything are so great that it could only be achieved by a state mandate and that’s never going to happen. And that’s the case almost everywhere in NJ. Nobody wants to concede the slightest shred of local power and you’ve got the super-rich living within miles of the super-poor and terrified that they might have to share something with them. Christie is pressuring everybody to merge or at least to share services but at the same time setting up the exact situation that makes people even more terrified to do so.

  12. BillB says:

    Here in Texas we are undergoing some severe budget restrictions in education. While I don’t have any children in school now, I still pay taxes to support the local school system. One of the problems is that no one wants to give up the “frills” on the core part of the education system. They don’t want do some things such as small increases in class size so that they can defund the hiring of new teachers. In my day, some 40 years ago, we didn’t have academic class sizes restricted to 22 students which I believe is the legislated norm here in Texas and my parents had to pay some for band instrument rental. If I had been in competetive athletics, they would have had to pay for things like shoes and other personal equipment. Additionally because of the unions, the districts have trouble changing pay arrangements and removing incompetent instructors.

    Now let me relate a story that is not peculiar to Texas but occurred here. In the mid-80’s there were budget problems in the schools in Abilene, Texas. They were going to cut such things as band, choir, speech, home economics, track, and a number of other elective courses; what they would not cut was the excessive amount of money poured into the (American) football programs. More than one person even suggested that they even cut basic academics extremely deep to support the football program.

    BTW, Catholic Mom, how can you pay only $14.00 a year in property taxes (is that total or just the school portion). I must pay over $5000 a year of which more than a $1000 goes to schools. I don’t have a McMansion but do have a fair size house to have the family over (20 plus people regularly) and a few acres that are used for agricultural purposes.

  13. Catholic Mom says:

    Teatime — I agree that tenure should be abolished. On the other hand, I don’t consider it the biggest problem we have. Needless to say, we have excellent teachers in our school district. You have to teach here for several years before you get tenure and if you’re not good enough, you’re going to get the boot before then. On the other hand, the teachers in Trenton are terrible because nobody wants to work there, therefore only the worst (or most idealistic) do. Abolishing tenure probably would have only a minor effect on who works where. That said, there is still reason for tenure.

    As far as teacher’s unions — the question is, are they, in fact, driving up the price of teachers beyond what the market would normally expect to pay. In the case of NJ, if you compare teacher’s salaries to the salaries of similar non-union professionals, the answer is clearly either “no’ or “not much.” I don’t WANT my kids teachers to get lousy salaries because I don’t want the teaching to be done by the rejects from all the professions that pay more. On the other hand, there is a day of reckoning coming — actually already here — with respect to covering all the premiums for health insurance. That’s a hold over from a by-gone day that’s going to disappear.

  14. Catholic Mom says:

    14k is what I meant to write ($14,000) My house is 2,000 square feet and 35 years old sitting on .5 acre. The McMansions owners are paying upwards of $30k per year. Of course this is a regressive tax of the worst type. If you retire or you’re out of work and your income drops — too bad, you still better make that $14k (or $30k) payment or they take your house. On the other hand, if you have a banner year on Wall Street and they give you a $250k bonus on top of the 1 million you earn, you still pay the same $30k in taxes. Of course, to reduce municipal tax we’d have to INCREASE state tax and shift the burden of many expenses from the municipalities to the state. And Christie is sure not going to let THAT happen because he’s working as hard as he can in the opposite direction.

  15. Catholic Mom says:

    Still NO reason for tenure I meant to say.

  16. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Home school or send your kids to a Christian school. We need to stop feeding the Beast. They are starting to use TSA thugs to grope kids going to prom. They are forbidding home made lunches in some schools. They are forcing gay agenda stories and “education” into the schools. Etc. My property taxes went up 57% this year in CT. If they do that again next year, I will be forced to sell my home. My taxes already excede my mortgage payment.

  17. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    Actually, there are myriad problems in the South, but for different reasons. My aunt teaches in Henry County, GA, as a tutor for Sylvan Learning Center. I believe all the counties (think South Side of Atlanta) adjacent to Henry County have lost all academic accreditation. We’re not talking No Child Left Behind, we’re talking actual accreditation. So, by law, all those counties are having to pay tens of thousands a dollars a year to send these kids to accredited tutors like Sylvan. They are literally using tax payer dollars to have a private company teach the kids. It is absolutely ridiculous. And the really sad thing is that the accredited counties are not allowing any of the students from other counties to come into their school districts (lest their testing scores plummet), and so many of these poor kids are graduating and can’t get into any college or vocational schools because their diplomas are literally not worth the paper they are printed on.

  18. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    I live in TX and I AM paying my $4000.00 in taxes every year. I don’t expect that to decrease any time soon. Our property taxes are actually pretty high(not as high as NJ; that state has higher property values), as TX has no state income tax. Frankly, considering the size of my family and all our deductions, I would probably pay next to NO state income tax, way less than the amount I pay for property taxes in a state that has no state income tax.

    And, I can speak to this, because I grew up in Bergen/Passaic counties, NJ and my kids are getting a similar quality public school education, without me having to pay the average ~ $650,000 house price in that area of that state, which I couldn’t afford in the first place.

    Fact is, sadly, this stuff is a mess. My oldest child started kindergarten seven years ago in MA–we had to pay several thousand dollars for full-day kindergarten. The half-day kindergarten was free, but would not have suited my son’s needs; he would have been bored with that schedule. Had my second child started school there, the half-day routine would have suited her. My husband and I used to wonder aloud what we were doing having to spend thousands on kindergarten in what was supposed to be a public school. To top it off, that teacher was also atrocious, but unionized. Yet, that district had so many complaints that they moved her to another school, sadly with a lot of low-income students…thus, the students who probably(even more) needed a quality teacher also didn’t get one. Luckily my second child had a better kindergarten experience in my current state.

    It is true in Texas that we pay for most of the children’s supplies. But, other than that, the state has made much effort to keep the costs down.

    Also for the record, Catholic Mom, not all conservatives live in TX, Texans are not always a prime example of conservatives(you’ve never been to Austin, obviously), and not all conservatives die for tax cuts. I for one just don’t believe in bloating the tax system in order to pay for a mass-ton of useless state and federal jobs that we don’t need. Obama and his “spread the wealth” crap–last I heard, he hasn’t yet hocked his million-dollar home in Chicago and given the money to the poor. A hypocritical and ridiculous school of thought.

    Where TX fails is in spending $2-4M to build new football stadiums whilst some kids(luckily not mine) have ancient crummy textbooks that the parents possibly have to pay for. Football and Calculus, despite what some may think, are not equivalent “classes” or courses of study.

    “We can’t afford to get our teeth fixed because it’s too expensive,” said Joyce Harris, who is 70 and voted against the proposed tax hike. “If we have our taxes go up to pay for little Joey’s football, that’s not exactly fair.”

    Well, I’d better not hear you screaming when I vote against my community building a brand new million-dollar senior center. Isn’t it interesting how society is judged by how it treats its children and elderly, but sometimes the elderly don’t give a damn at all about the children.

    I’m from Jersey/the northeast and I happen to live in TX now. Yes, I value education and it is a top priority. My kids won’t play sports without keeping their grades up. But, there are plenty of people who value education here in TX, are highly educated, and want their kids to have the same.

    When there is stubborn refusal to make government smaller(local, too), the tax problems most likely end up six in one, half a dozen in the other. Again, it’s a mess…

  19. Sarah says:

    RE: “I have zero sympathy for the school systems here.”

    Hear hear, Paula! I have a relative who is a public school teacher and he’s simply appalled at the colossal waste of money.

    This is all about terrible budget allocation, and I don’t see any hope that the current leaders in charge of public schools will be capable of making wise decisions with tax dollars any time soon.

  20. The Anti-Gnostic says:

    Catholic Mom,

    Let me boil it down for you: you pay high taxes to send your kids to school with the offspring of wealthy white people, and by God you want what you paid for.

  21. Fradgan says:

    This tail-chasing debate will be ended when schools are forced to compete for students by increasing the QUALITY of education. Bring us school vouchers. Give families a choice. Let loose the forces of freedom.

  22. Catholic Mom says:

    I’m all for vouchers. I’m convinced they would solve a huge percent of the problem. The other percentage has to be made up by making school districts more efficient. I don’t see a lot of spending large sums of money on stupid things here. I do see that, for example, Princeton, WW-P, South Brunswick, East Windsor, and Robbinsville (five school districts that I could all reach by bicycle from my house in less than 1/2 hour and I could name a lot more if I were willing to bike just a bit farther) all have their own superintendent and vice-superintendent and a whole lot of other things.

    Now here’s a totally radical thought which I throw out to see what conservatives think of it. What if every kid in the state got a voucher for the full cost of their education (or the basic cost) and that kid could use the voucher not only to go to any private school they chose but to any public school provided they could transport themselves there?

  23. JustOneVoice says:

    [blockquote] Now here’s a totally radical thought which I throw out to see what conservatives think of it. What if every kid in the state got a voucher for the full cost of their education (or the basic cost) and that kid could use the voucher not only to go to any private school they chose but to any public school provided they could transport themselves there? [/blockquote]

    The only problem I have with this, is calling it a radical thought. I think it is a great solution. I think it would save enough money that a transportation allowance could be add (it would help with competition too).

    It would be nice, and fair, if there was a provision for homeschooling. However, I realize there could be an issue with those who would use their money to homeschool and those who would just say they were homeschooling to get the money. Any government requirements would defeat one of the reasons some people homeschool – not wanting the government to tell them what their children should be learning. Even without a homeschooling provision, I think this would solve many problems.

  24. Ross says:

    Here’s what I see as the problem with vouchers.

    Consider hypothetical Private School A, that currently charges $X per student per year in tuition, and enjoys full enrollment. A voucher system is introduced, giving each child in the state a voucher worth $V per year. Private School A immediately raises its tuition to $V + $X, which means it makes a lot more money and exactly the same set of people who could afford to send their kids there before can still afford to send them there.

    Now consider hypothetical Private School B, which charged $Y per student per year and would like to attract more students. Once the vouchers are introduced, they raise their tuition to, say, $V + $Y/2 — effectively cutting their tuition in half and thereby becoming more affordable, and likely attracting more students, but still making more money per student than before. If cutting effective tuition in half isn’t enough, they can cut it by some larger fraction and still come out ahead.

    Finally, consider hypothetical Public School C, which can only charge the voucher price per student. Every parent who can possibly scrape up the effectively reduced tuition for private schools like B has immediately sent their kids to such schools, cutting Public School C’s budget even more than it was before. Public School C now serves only the kids of parents who even with vouchers cannot afford private schools — in other words, the poorest families — and, with its relative pittance of funding, cannot afford to give them a competitive education. Those kids then end up disadvantaged as adults, and are more likely to remain poor themselves.

    It seems to me that a voucher system is a windfall for private schools, while simultaneously gutting public schools and condemning poor households to sub-standard educations.

  25. Catholic Mom says:

    The question is — does the voucher let you go to a public school out of your district?? New York City is one huge school district and there is some very small modicum of school choice, but even there basically residence is destiny.
    If vouchers let you go to any school you can get to (and there is some lottery system for who gets in) then the whole school budget has to be paid for by a single state tax as opposed to 350 local taxes as in NJ. One of the obvious motivations for people here in West Windsor to continually vote for enormous school budgets with associated enormous taxes is that they are paying for their kids and not somebody else’s kids to be educated. But there is another big motivation even for people without kids to vote for the budget and that is that the schools here are a huge part of what keeps property values up in the clouds. That and the fact that we have a train stop right in the town that takes you into Manhattan. So even if you’ve never been on the train in your life, you’re going to support whatever is needed to keep the train stop here. Likewise, even if you’re childless, you’re probably going to vote for the school budget. Whenever any budget cuts are proposed people here don’t scream “oh my God our kids’ education will be hurt.” They scream “oh my God our ranking will drop and our property values will fall.” But when you’re taxing yourself to support ALL the schools in NJ, not just the schools that keep your property values high, your motivation to pay those taxes, except in a very general way, disappears.
    It’s all totally academic, however, because NJ is never ever going to say that kids from bad school districts can go to schools in good school districts. Anyone who proposed that would not only be impeached, they’d be assasinated.
    True story. A kid lived in an apartment building that happened to straddle the line between two townships (and hence two school districts). Although his apartment was on the end of the building that was in one district, he was going to high school in the other district. The district found out and told him he could not continue to attend to school unless his family moved to the other end of the building. No apartment at that end was available so he had to live with his grandmother until one opened up. (They have investigators here that work full time just finding people who have sneaked into the wrong school district.)

  26. Teatime2 says:

    We have a magnet school district that serves all of South Texas that offers a choice to parents. There are no sports programs or expensive extra-curriculars but they do have clubs. It’s all about education and transportation is included for all students, too.


    Sci Tech has consistently ranked among the top schools in the country, despite the fact that the socio-economic demographics in this area are among the worst in the nation.