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Letter: Kudos To John Owens

The Port News editorial (8/28) by John Owens made some good points, admitting our public schools have become very “expensive, bureaucratic, corrupt and politically charged”. But he also made some erroneous statements regarding school choice that were refuted in a recent report by the Friedman Foundation, established by Nobel Laureate Dr. Milton Friedman and his wife, economist Dr. Rose Friedman. (“A Win-Win Solution — Empirical Evidence on School Choice,” April 2013).

Of 12 empirical studies on academic outcomes for school choice, 11 concluded that school choice improved student outcomes. One study found no impact, and none found any negative academic impact. There were 23 studies on the academic impact on public school students, with 22 finding school choice improved public school performance, and 1 study finding no visible impact. No study found school choice harming public schools.

Six studies looked at the impact on taxpayers. All 6 found school choice saved taxpayers money, since all choice programs provide vouchers or tax credits at a level well below the average public school cost/pupil (typically, about half the cost). A study done 22 years ago for the New York State Senate (NY Times, 11/24/91) found that parental choice programs in New York State would save taxpayers $4 billion a year. Today, NYS taxpayer savings would be $8 billion a year.

Seven studies examined the impact of school choice on civic values and practices, such as respecting the rights of others. Five of these 7 concluded school choice improves values and practices, while 2 found no visible impact. No study found a negative impact.

Many years ago I was a public school teacher in New York City, as was my mother-in-law. I also have a daughter and two daughters-in-law who taught in other states. It is a wonderful profession. I know many retired teachers here in Port, all of whom were very dedicated to their work. But I strongly favor parental choice in education, which is one of the very few ways in which we can both help the urban poor academically, and at the same time save taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

Bette Russo

Port Washington