Writing over at National Review, Adam Schaeffer delivers a pointed and pithy assessment of Weighted Student Funding, a proposal we’ve covered before. Schaeffer’s critique is succinct and spot-on, which must be a disappointment for all those who thought that we would be able to agree to “school choice lite” and then move on to other issues without giving parents true independent options. The most valuable part of the piece is its illustration the fox-guarding-the-henhouse problem wherein the theoretical advantages of WSF could be undermined by weak, corrupt, or inept implementation.
In the current funding system, the city’s centralized education bureaucracy uses impenetrable formulas to allocate funds to schools for rigidly defined uses. The mayor intends to loosen the reins and let education dollars follow each student to her school, in an amount based on her needs. Critics attack the plan and supporters praise it as a “backdoor voucher,” and in some ways it is just that, but it still keeps everyone in a government-run system. So what happens when the best schools are all booked up? Weighted student funding doesn’t open up seats at good schools. What happens if a child needs the direction and moral education that a religious school offers? Weighted student funding doesn’t give parents that option.
Read the whole article—it includes a punchy and compelling defense of education tax credits, a much-maligned idea that is the nearest out of all proposals to being the single right answer for funding parental choice in education.