Homo sapiens evolved to deal with a natural world governed by consistent, predictable physical laws—so it stands to reason that when we fill our days studying public policy, we might occasionally become overwhelmed by all the crazy. It seems I was thus overhwelmed yesterday, when I blogged about the savings from Washington, DC’s private school choice program, forgetting about a backroom deal that was required to secure its passage.
While the vouchers only cost $14 million per year over the course of the initial five year trial, school choice advocates had to commit to spending an extra $13 million on DC public schools each year, as a palliative to local public school and political leaders. Some might consider this political payoff an additional “cost” of the voucher program, thereby reducing the program’s net savings. That would be a mistake. This payoff was just yet another cost of operating a state school monopoly whose rent-seeking masters demand to be financially appeased if even a few of “their” students are emancipated. It is at that system’s feet that these costs should be laid.
So, after reflecting on this particular bit of crazy, I’ll stick with the DC voucher savings estimate I offered yesterday.