Thursday, October 25, 2007

Deseret News' Math better than PCE's

Remember how I said that the "average" tuition dollar number put forth by supporters of vouchers was intentionally misleading and bad math? And then voucher supporters got into the weeds saying I didn't know the difference between the mean median and mode? Well, amazingly enough, the Deseret Morning News seems to agree with my analysis:
Even if voters approve giving $3,000 a year per child in state vouchers to help non-wealthy families pay private school tuition, families would still need another $4,800 or so per child to afford typical annual tuition in Utah.
That is according to calculations and research by the Deseret Morning News. The figures are similar to state tuition averages calculated by the anti-voucher Utahns for Public Schools.
The News telephoned all private schools listed by the State Office of Education about their tuition and enrollment. Some refused data or did not respond. The newspaper also excluded from calculations many treatment centers for drugs and other problems where overall treatment costs (usually very high) did not break out tuition for schooling there.

The research resulted in a database of 64 private schools, in which more than 13,700 of the 16,000-plus private school students estimated by the state are enrolled.

With it, the newspaper calculated a weighted average (which takes into account how many students pay tuition at different levels). It used "normal" tuition rates, not counting discounts for such things as multiple students from the same family or subsidies by Catholic parishes for members at Catholic schools.

For all private schools providing information, the weighted average for tuition was $7,824 a year per student — more than $4,800 beyond what the $3,000 state voucher for non-wealthy students would cover.

For just those private schools that have identified themselves to the pro-voucher Parents for Choice in Education as willing to take vouchers now, the weighted average is a trifle lower: $7,777.
So turns out, the $4,500 is total BS. Color me unsurprised. PCE complainted that DesNews included K-12, not K-8 like they did. Why do you suppose PCE doesn't want to average in high school tuition? Because that is the most expensive. Most people who support vouchers want them for their kids' primary and secondary schooling, not just K-8. Really, what would the point be to go back to public school for high school after being in private school for all of your childhood?

Oh but there is more about how unfeasible this voucher bill really is.
A $3,000 voucher would fully cover average tuition at nine of the 62 schools that provided data. Another seven schools had average tuition between $3,000 and $4,000. Twenty schools had tuition between $4,001 and $5,000. And 28 schools had tuition over $5,000.

Of note, many private schools could not accommodate many more students if they wanted to take advantage of vouchers to enroll.

For example, the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Salt Lake, the largest private school system in the state with 5,407 students in 14 schools, estimates it has capacity to add only 317 more elementary/middle school students and 373 high school students.
Not even 10 schools in the whole state of Utah will both a) take vouchers and b) cost less than $3,000 so that the families that make little money could send them to private school without additional out of pocket expenses.

The article doesn't say which 9 schools those are (and where they are located). Suffice it to say that only a minuscule fraction of the hundreds of thousands of children in Utah's public schools could fully utilize vouchers under this terrible piece of legislation. Which is probably why 61 percent of Utahns oppose it.

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