School Choice in the District of Columbia: Saving Taxpayers Money, Increasing Opportunities for Children

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Members of Congress and President Bushhave put forth proposals that would establishschool voucher programs in the District ofColumbia. Those programs would allow pupilsto use vouchers to attend the parochial or privateschool of their parents' choice. Could privateschools increase the range of academic options inthe nation's capital by educating students currentlyattending District of Columbia publicschools?

An analysis of the private and parochialschools in the metropolitan Washington, D.C.,area reveals the following:

  • Private schools in Washington and sur-roundingareas charge less on average thanthe D.C. public school system spends perpupil.
  • The D.C. public school system, which hassuffered from overspending and budgetdeficits in the last few years, could find itsenrollment reduced by almost 10 percentas a result of a voucher program.
  • Private schools in Washington couldimmediately accommodate about 2,925students now attending public or charterschools. Allowing all independent andparochial schools in the Washington metroarea to participate in a school choice programcould add almost 3,500 more spaces,since there are more than 6,000 seats availablein local, nonpublic schools.

Casey J. Lartigue Jr.

Casey J. Lartigue Jr. is an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute.