Saturday, January 10, 2009

the (increasingly) burdensome cost of the education monopoly

From Lewis Andrews in the WSJ, a story on Connecticut voters, rebelling against one of the three common problems with a government-run entity with tremendous monopoly power: quality, choice, and here, cost.

On June 30, the board of education and the town council in Enfield, Conn., convened to hear the results of a citizen cost-cutting committee. Among its other recommendations, the 17 residents recommended replacing some public school teachers with low-cost college interns, restricting the use of school vehicles, and increasing employee contributions to benefit plans.

These may seem modest steps toward fiscal responsibility -- but they are emblematic of a significant change in this very blue state: growing disenchantment with the price of government, especially of public education.

Over the past two and a half decades, the student population in Connecticut has increased only 10%. Yet the cost of schooling more than doubled -- to $8.8 billion in 2006, up from $3.4 billion in 1981 [but only a 17% increase after inflation-- thanks, Mike for catching this omission!]....

Now taxpayers find themselves caught between falling real estate values and ever increasing property taxes. And for what?...

There are other ideas in the air. In Chester, First Selectman (Mayor) Tom Marsh proposes to pay students not to attend public school. He wants to give $1,500 a year to families who send a child to vocational school, $3,000 to families who homeschool, and to put $5,000 in a college scholarship fund for anyone transferring to a private high school....


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