NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 2, 2006

A large body of high-quality research has emerged in the past few years showing that school choice benefits the students who use it. In Missouri, improving public schools through school choice can save taxpayers millions, says Brian Gottlob, Senior Fellow with the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation.

For example:

  • The annual costs associated with just one year's class of dropouts (an estimated 17,711 in 2005) is $71 million, or about $4,000 per drop out annually.
  • Dropouts in Missouri, on average, earn about $10,000 less per year than high school graduates; the lower earnings of dropouts cost the state of Missouri lost income tax revenue of between $158 and $177 million annually.
  • In addition, a Missouri dropout is twice as likely to be incarcerated as a high school graduate; the lifetime incarceration cost associated with just one year's worth of high school dropouts in Missouri is $28 million.
  • A school choice program in Kansas City and St. Louis that increases private school enrollments by 11,000 students would reduce annual dropout rates in public schools by 14 percent; this will save between $8.5 and $17 million annually over the expected life of the students.

School choice programs, rather than benefiting individuals at the expense of the public, provide large public benefits that likely equal or exceed the benefits to students in a choice program, says Gottlob.

Source: Brian J. Gottlob, "The High Cost of Failing to Reform Public Education in Missouri," Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, School Choice Issues in the State, March 2006.


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