Alterations in the housing market may also play a role where K-12 private schools are concerned. Not long ago, one could live in a nice house in the city for a lot less than a nice house in the suburbs — and spend the money saved on private schooling for one’s kids. In gentrifying cities, however, that’s no longer so. Now one must pay more for a house in the city plus private school for the children. Thus, more parents are saying, “Forget it, I’ll go public — provided the public sector can be made to supply me with a good charter or magnet school, or a virtual-education supplement to a decent neighborhood school.”
For many of these schools, this may be a temporary problem: If voucher programs take off, private schools could compete for many of the students who couldn’t otherwise afford their higher tuition. But for Catholic schools, which make up about one-third of all private K-12 schools in America, this may not be a viable solution:
Most other modern countries have essentially melded their private-education sectors into their systems of public financing—and have accepted the tradeoffs that accompany such financing, namely government regulation of curriculum, teacher credentialing, student admissions and more. We can see early examples of this in the U.S., too, as vouchers gradually spread and private schools accommodate themselves to the state testing regimes and other rules that come with such financing.This is apt to be a limited remedy, however, due to American church-state entanglement anxieties that other countries don’t share; prohibitions in many state constitutions that make such public financing difficult or impossible.
Via Meadia is glad charter schools are flourishing, but we also want parents to have as many options as possible. More voucher programs, and ones with greater flexibility, would allow parents to choose whether to send their child to a charter school, a traditional private school or, yes, a religious school. Education reformers ought to push in that direction even as charter schools continue to expand.[School lockers image courtesy of Shutterstock]