NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 13, 2005

Among the victims of Hurricane Katrina are at least 372,000 displaced students. What are we going to do with them? President Bush has assigned Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to come up with a plan to provide aid for the states. Here is an idea she should consider: instead of providing funding to schools in general, give it only to the campuses that students and their parents choose, says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Every campus in the regions where displaced students are temporarily residing - every public, private or charter school -- could compete for these kids.
  • For each student who enrolls, the schools should receive $7,500 in federal funds -- which is the current average annual cost per pupil in the public schools, according to the Texas Education Commissioner.
  • These funds would be in addition to normal local or state funding; all the money would go to the campus and none would go to the school district or other bureaucracies.

Under a system that forces schools to compete:

  • A school that attracts even one student could start thinking about bonuses for all its teachers.
  • Attract three or four, and it could afford to hire another teacher or provide more generous health insurance.
  • Attract 135 students, and the school would reap more than $1 million.

But to get these extra funds, the schools would first have to attract new customers. And that would require a brand new way of thinking in a system where the only experience with competition is magnet schools that try to appeal to white kids living in the suburbs, says Goodman.

Source: John C. Goodman, "Educating the Children of Katrina," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 534, October 13, 2005.

For text:


Browse more articles on Education Issues