How Would People Pay for Private Schooling? What about Vouchers?

Here are some of the ways people would pay:

  • Most people are more able to pay for education than they think. Parents would set priorities and plan for schooling just as they do for a home or a car or any other number of things they want. They might make sacrifices, putting off that new car or entertainment system or fancier home in order to educate their children.
  • Parents would also find creative ways to help fund their children’s schooling. They might suggest that relatives contribute to a school fund rather than buy gifts for them on holidays, or they might trade their services for part of a school bill. They might take an extra job, as so many do for luxuries they want. They might even consider loans, as they do for college, homes and cars.
  • Keep in mind that many thousands of parents of very modest means now find the resources to send their children to private schools, because it’s a priority for them. Many thousands more manage to come up with fees of $25-$80 an hour for tutors.
  • Thousands of businesses now partner with, sponsor and contribute to public schools. This would work for private schools, too. Businesses have a vested interest in a truly educated populace and would have great motivation to invest in private education. Their investment in public education today is all too often a matter of image more than a belief that their money will improve education─it makes them look good in the eyes of the community to be able to say they give to the local schools, even if they do have to remediate those schools’ students who later enter the workforce. It would be a breath of fresh air for most businesses to be free to invest where their investment meant something more than public relations.
  • Schools would offer partial and full scholarships, financed by fund-raisers, donations and philanthropists.
  • Philanthropists, churches, and many others would contribute heavily to private schools, in the form of direct donations, equipment, student grants, and more. Many already do, and (to repeat) many of those who have thrown their weight behind public schools would transfer their giving to private schools.
  • School taxes would no longer be necessary─people would have more money to contribute (and Americans have proven they are generous).
  • In a free market, a greater variety of options and affordability would be available (and in many cases already are), ranging from full-service schools to internet schools, from home schooling to part home schooling/part classes.
  • Unlike public schools, private schools have the incentive to practice thrift and good stewardship of their resources, bringing down the cost of schooling.
  • Schools and families could (and do) conduct fundraisers to raise money.
  • Parents could (and do) step in to share the teaching burden, especially in extra-curricular areas like music, art, drama, shop, home-ec, and the list could go on.
  • Groups of parents could (and already do) pool their resources to hire individual tutors for small groups of children that meet in private homes, creating a mini-private school.

There is really no end to the creative ways private and home schooling can be financed. The imagination is the limit.

What About Vouchers?

Why not just provide government vouchers so parents can send their children to school where they want? Wouldn’t that solve the funding problem?

Not in the least.

  • Vouchers are still state financing of schools, which comes with endless meddling, regulations, strings attached─rules about what can be taught, said, displayed, who can be hired, testing requirements, not to mention continued dependence on government for our preparation for life. It wouldn’t be long before a private school system turned into another top-heavy, enslaved, mediocre government system. It’s the nature of the beast.
  • Some people like to claim that this pitfall can be avoided─just force the government to agree that people have the right to send their kids where they want, at taxpayer expense, and the government can do nothing but collect and hand out the money. These people would do well to talk to the thousands of colleges that accept government taxpayer-funded vouchers in the form of student grants and loans. Not one has escaped the government’s endless rules. The only thing that saves some colleges from total deterioration is that a large portion of their funding still comes from parents and students who expect something for their money. It is amazingly naive to think that grade and high schools would escape what colleges cannot.
  • Vouchers still involve forcing your neighbors to pay for your children’s education. Some people find this acceptable because it relieves them of the burden, others find it a just use of their neighbors’ earnings. Whatever your point of view, there are other serious reasons to dismiss the idea and embrace total independence from the state. The surest way to kill independence is to accept money from the government.

Tax-financed vouchers will destroy the very private education that their proponents so much desire. The goose that is laying the golden eggs is the combination of voluntary parental sacrifice and the ability of schools to locate those parents. Converting this ‘sacrifice system’ to a ‘welfare system’ with school stamps, a.k.a. vouchers [like food stamps], will kill this goose. If government funding of parental duties weakens parents, would removal of government funding enable them to regain parenting strength? I think so. Parents who increase their sacrifice for their children subsequently work to become better parents.  
– Marshall Fritz, founder of The Alliance for the Separation of School & State