The Death of Private Schools is Greatly Exaggerated (& Misrepresented!)

School Finance 101

As I’ve explained on previous posts, specific to New Jersey, claims of the dying private sector in education are grossly over exaggerated.

These days, such claims are often over exaggerated with the purpose of framing some broad policy interest in supporting private schools. That is, some need for immediate public policy attention to the problem – some reason to consider how to better integrate our private sector schools into the provision of the public good of elementary and secondary education.

It is argued broadly that the loss of our ever important private sector of schooling is a threat to educational excellence – or even national security. That this loss is of particular concern for our middle and lower income populations who have now lost access to private sector schooling.

In short, policymakers must act swiftly to stabilize this “too big to fail” sector of schooling that is critical to…

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Graph of the Day: Private School Day Tuition vs. Public School Expenditures (Boston Metro 2009)

School Finance 101

I’ve written extensively in the past about private school tuition and expenditures.

Here is a link to a report on private school expenditures I produced in 2009. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/private-schooling-US

The graph below is actually stacked heavily in favor of showing that public schools have higher spending than private schools. Why? Because I am comparing private school tuition to public school total expenditures per pupil.

TUITION DOES NOT COVER TOTAL COSTS AND DOES NOT REPRESENT TOTAL SPENDING. The tuition figures included below include only DAY SCHOOL TUITION (or day component for boarding schools) which is only a share of current operating expenditures.

That out of the way, let’s take a look at the distribution of day tuition for the 57 private schools identified in 2009 by Boston Magazine as the “best” in the Boston Metro – broadly defining the Boston Metro (extending pretty far out). These schools collectively serve over 24,000 students…

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Graphs of the Day: Texas Private School Enrollments & Expenditures

School Finance 101

Below are a series of graphs of the distribution of enrollments and average total expenditures for Texas private schools. I figure these are particularly relevant as the Texas legislature entertains the idea of providing vouchers for private schools in Texas. These data, unfortunately, are from a few years back – based on 2008 IRS tax filings of private schools. Further, because I used IRS filings to determine expenditures, certain groups of schools – most notably Catholic schools – are noticeably underrepresented in the financial analysis. That said, I was able to compile sufficient  data on relatively large numbers of Independent Schools (about 75% of all nationally) and Christian Schools (nearly 1/3… not great, but reasonable numbers). Those two groups of schools represent a significant share of Texas private school enrollments.

Here’s the punchline from these graphs. If we have any expectation that a voucher program is going to provide religious…

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Borrowing wise words from those truly market-based, Private Independent schools…

School Finance 101

Lately it seems that public policy and the reformy rhetoric that drives it are hardly influenced by the vast body of empirical work and insights from leading academic scholars which suggests that such practices as using value-added metrics to rate teacher quality, or dramatically increasing test-based accountability and pushing for common core standards and tests to go with them are unlikely to lead to substantial improvements in education quality, or equity.

Rather than review relevant empirical evidence or provide new empirical illustrations in this post, I’ll do as I’ve done before on this blog and refer to the wisdom and practices of private independent schools – perhaps the most market driven segment and most elite segment of elementary and secondary schooling in the United States.

Really… if running a school like a ‘business’ (or more precisely running a school as we like to pretend that ‘businesses’ are run… even though…

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