by David Safier
Fact: When all of Arizona’s funding streams are added up, Arizona school funding ranks in the middle of the states at more than $9,000 per student per year.
In my post, I said that the figure almost everyone uses for Arizona, including some conservative organizations, is a little over $6,000. But I didn't get into an argument with him on the point, and I won't, since I don't have the budgetary expertise to sort out all the numbers. If he wants to debate his $9,000 number, it will have to be with someone else.
[Ladner] uses an apples-and-oranges comparison of [his] high figure with the usual per pupil spending figures in other states to show we're not really 49th in spending.
In the course of our discussion, Ladner said this about ranking states' educational spending:
The whole process of ranking states is not a terribly productive one. Arizona provides bad numbers, and so do other states. On the other hand, some states provide very accurate numbers. The whole ranking exercise is a pig's breakfast.
With that colorful phrase, "a pig's breakfast," Ladner admitted he doesn't lend much credence to his own statement that Arizona is in the middle of the states in per pupil funding. Yet he includes it in a statement he says is "Fact."
If you'd like me to concede the point that I ought not to make any claims about rankings- I agree to do so.
That to me is an absolute admission that he can't back up his "Fact" about ranking, which was the point I made in my original post. Ladner agrees with me: his "ranking" is not a statement of fact, or even an informed opinion.
So far as I know, Ladner hasn't printed a retraction anywhere except in the comments quoted above. I'm not holding my breath.
Fact: Getting children into private schools with $1,000 of foregone tax revenue costs less than the $9,000 spent on a child in the public school system. To save money, the Legislature should expand the private school scholarship tax credit and move more children from public to private schools. Suspending it will disrupt these students’ educations and increase costs to the state as children return to public schools.
The entire comment string for that post was incredibly long and convoluted, following related and unrelated tangents, even getting a bit personal now and again.
The number of students who originally switched from public to private school is not relevant to our current discussion.
In fact, if you're trying to decide whether the state saves or loses money on the individual tax credits, it's directly relevant to the discussion. All I can think is, Ladner didn't want to discuss my figures because they show that his purported "Fact" is more of a fiction.
Let me put two numbers you and I have been talking about together and see what conclusions I can reach. You say the average amount of a credit-based scholarship is $1,800. I have read that only 15% of the students receiving credit-based scholarships are "switchers" who were previously in public schools. That means only 15% of those receiving the $1,800 are actually people who otherwise would have been using state money for their educations.
15% of the students is one out of every 6.6 students. So to find out how much each one of those switchers costs the state, we have to multiply their credit-based scholarship of $1,800 by 6.6. That comes to about $12,000. Calculating things that way, the state pays $12,000 for every credit-scholarship student who would otherwise be in public school.
If you like, you can divide $1,800 by .15. You'll get the same result: $12,000.
Based on this calculation, depending which figure you use to determine how much it costs to have a pupil in public school, yours at $9,000 or the more commonly used figure of about $6,000, the tax credit costs between 150% and 200% more than what it would cost to keep that child in public school.