Georgia Makes Fox

On school vouchers.

Georgia is becoming the next battleground in the school voucher debate.

Republican State Senator Eric Johnson plans to introduce legislation in January 2009 that would give each public school student a voucher equal to the money the state currently spends on his or her education. The voucher could be used for tuition at the parents’ school of choice — public, private or religious.


  1. SavannahDem says:

    Here’s my chance to ask a question to all you free market conservatives about vouchers!

    Savannah Country Day School currently charges the market rate for its service, educating a child. Let’s call that amount X. (Actual rates are here:

    So, let’s assume that the government gives the parents of all those SCDS students a voucher for Y dollars. This will cause a shift upward in the demand curve.

    An upward shift in the demand curve means that SCDS will charge more for its product. How much more? Y dollars per student, that’s how much more.

    So, if you cannot afford SCDS tuition now, you’ll be no closer with a voucher in your pocket.

    Of course SCDS will make a killing. It’s an increase in demand that costs them nothing. SCDS didn’t innovate anything, improve the product, etc.

    The losers will be the public schools which will see their funding drop by Y dollars times however many students are currently not in the public school system.

    So, aren’t vouchers a way to simply shift money from public schools to private schools without expanding the opportunity of anyone to attend private school?

    Why not be honest about it and directly appropriate these funds to private schools? It’d be more efficient than printing up all those vouchers so that SCDS parents can just sign them directly over to the school.

  2. Game Fan says:

    This stuff is tailor made for neocons. Blurring the lines between public and private. And with standards coming from DC lobbyists no doubt. But some people may have a problem with the whole “Algebra by Kofi Anon” textbook.

  3. Demonbeck says:


    You assume that a private school is trying to turn a profit rather than merely charging to cover their expenses.

    People won’t leave public schools if the public schools work like they are supposed to.

  4. Tinkerhell says:

    SavannahDem –

    I might agree with you if SCDS were the only private/religious/good school around. I’m not from Savannah and maybe I’m wrong about no other private schools. I have to suspect that if SCDS raises tuition by ‘Y’ then they will lose attendance unless every other private school does the same (which they wouldn’t any more than SCDS would raise tuition by ‘Y’ – maybe it would go up but not by the full amount of ‘Y’). Most parents of kids going to SCDS aren’t going to continuing paying the same tuition they already do +Y. Ain’t gonna happen.

    I do agree that tuition may go up but not as much as ‘Y’.

    Yes this will result in tax payers that work to send their kids to a private school getting to use their money for that instead of working hard to send their kid to private school and the neighbors kid to public school. Personally I don’t have a problem with that. Just a little less socialism in my life.

  5. SavannahDem says:

    Demonbeck –

    “You assume that a private school is trying to turn a profit rather than merely charging to cover their expenses.”

    Actually, the market effect would be the same either way. SCDS competes for students by selling a service for a fee.

    Given that parents have more money to pay the fee, the school can charge more for the service. Now, they’ll likely improve the service with that money in order to remain competitive. (i.e. if St. Andrews lowers class size with the $ or builds a new theater, then SCDS will do something similar to retain market position).

    The percentage the school takes in profit (if any) is immaterial. The expenses will increase commensurate with the influx of cash.

    The most likely scenario is a short term windfall for SCDS followed by an increase in expenses to SCDS.

    The quality of education at SCDS improves at the expense of all taxpayers, benefiting the children already enrolled there.

    The quality of education at public schools declines, crime rates increase, less educated workforce leads to loss of industry – you know the standard parade of horribles.

    Chris –


  6. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Well…now those poor kids that go to poor schools can have the choice about which poor school they can go to!

    It’s about time. I thought the GOP was going to try to get those poor south fulton students into east cobb or north fulton schools.

    I think I am going to have to sell my house in East Cobb if this bill passes. Afterall, public schools are what keep property valuable in many places.

    Heads up N.Metro Atlantans. The GOP has screwed you economically for 6 years…get ready for more. Not only do they want your home values to sink further…they want to do it in a period where it is nearly impossible to sell your house.

  7. Why would any truly conservative Republican support vouchers? That’s STILL taking money from one group of people to redistribute it to another group.

    You want school choice? Give the people tuition tax credits to send their children wherever they want, including public, private or home schools.

    And how much you wanna bet homeschoolers aren’t even included in this “voucher choice” program in the first place?

    Separation works better than segregation.

  8. heroV says:

    Demonbeck, many private schools may not be interested in trying to turn a profit, but they are always interested in building up their endowments and making capital improvements. If the parents can still afford to pay tuition after receiving voucher money, then I can see many schools still charging it, even if there isn’t a profit incentive.

  9. jsm says:

    “The quality of education at public schools declines, crime rates increase, less educated workforce leads to loss of industry – you know the standard parade of horribles.”

    In this scenario, actually, public schools would go away and private companies would compete to provide the best educational product to parents for their children. The problem of children being forced to attend failing schools goes away, and competition leads to improvement in the entire educational landscape.

    However, I don’t see this scenario happening, as all public schools would not die. There are many quality teachers and administrators out there that can run state-of-the-art educational systems.

    There are “horribles” in any situation, but I believe competition would keep them to a minimum–not a parade.

    “It’s about time. I thought the GOP was going to try to get those poor south fulton students into east cobb or north fulton schools.

    “I think I am going to have to sell my house in East Cobb if this bill passes. Afterall, public schools are what keep property valuable in many places.”

    GC, the education of our future generations is more important than your property value. Who says East Cobb schools don’t stay in demand with the freedom to compete? And what do you have against “poor south fulton students?” Do they not deserve an opportunity for a good education? Geez.

  10. Progressive Dem says:

    I don’t why the Republicans are fixated on gimmicks: Fair Tax, school vouchers, prayer in schools, term limits, abstinence only and encouraging people to carry guns. There are serious problems like and conservatives don’t come up with comprehensive and integrated policies. Instead they present one dimentional gimmicks that make good bumper stickers. These are disingenous granstanding proposals. They are shortcuts and not long-term solutions.

    Most Americans would agree that American schools are not as competitive as needed in a global economy. Most American students are in public schools, and the majority will never be in private schools. So shifting resources from one to the other is not going to benefit the vast majority of students, or significantly prepare the American labor force. Let’s face the problem head on and deal with the public school system. It is completly illogical to solve the problems in public education by starving it.

  11. tb says:

    Goldwater Conservative
    I sincerely doubt that anyone from south fulton will be moving on up from south fulton to east cobb any time soon.

    Vouchers are already working in some parts of the country and the special ed vouchers program in Georgia has given new opportunity for disabled kids. It’s caused new schools to come on line and the program continues to roll out and kids are doing better now.

    I would support voucher 110% because in my view the school systems across Georgia are not delivering what they should from the money they receive. If the parent obtains control of education (rather than the government), I believe student achievement in GA will improve.

    School choice was given to the residents of Hartford CT within the district, and student achievement improved. Innovation happened, when prior to that, the school system was failing miserably. Hartford City Schools is a prime example that it does not matter what socioeconomic background or what race a kid comes from, because they are graduating the kids there and sending them off to college, with like a 95% grad rate now.

  12. ramblinwreck says:

    As a homeschool dad the idea of universal vouchers is not as appealing to me as giving tax credits but at this point I’ll take any improvement in education that we can get. I already don’t get my money’s worth from the taxes I pay that go toward educating eveyone else’s kids so I wouldn’t be any worse off.

    It’s amusing that the only proposed solution to the abysmal state of public education is to throw more money at the problem instead of doing the one thing that would probably work, getting government completely out of the picture. Why people believe that a government is incompetent in every other facet of every program it controls but can somehow miraculously provide a quality education if only given more money is beyond me.

    If a voucher system is implemented new private schools will spring up like mushrooms and the costs of a private school education will drop. Government schools will have to become competitive or, hopefully, close.

  13. ramblin, just as long as you realize that homeschoolers won’t get squat from a voucher program, even though they’re paying double (curriculum plus taxes). Nice of you to think of others, though.

  14. jkga says:


    Hartford school choice isn’t the same as vouchers. The Hartford school choice system includes some charter schools and public/private joint enterprises, but it doesn’t involve tax dollars going to private schools who can limit their enrollment to only the best-performing students.

  15. ramblinwreck says:

    Taft, I do understand. But now we’re in a position of having such a shortage of trainable employees for any industry coming into North Georgia that the state is offering remedial classes just to get enough educable people to man a manufacturing facility. With a graduation rate barely above 60% we have to do something new.

    To quote Einstein, I think: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

    You’re not going to fix public education if the only solution you’re willing to accept is to throw more money at a problem that can’t be fixed by more money.

  16. jsm says:

    “Let’s face the problem head on and deal with the public school system. It is completly illogical to solve the problems in public education by starving it.”

    I’m waiting for someone–anyone–to show me a meaningful plan to “deal with the public school system.” Politicians offer lip service, but anytime standards are raised or accountability is requested, teachers, school boards, and democrats in general get their panties in a wad, cry about funding shortfalls, whine about teacher salaries, etc.

    So, yes, let’s face it. Public education in general is failing, especially in Georgia. We need an overhaul, and I think competition is the way to go.

  17. slyram says:

    State Senator Eric Johnson gets the backbone award from me because you pretty much know where he stands—whether you like his views or not.

    From my brief blogging, it is clearly I like bridgebuilding and looking for common ground and I think Lt. Governor candidate Johnson will find a sizable number of African American voters with his pro-vouchers efforts.

    My question concerns the ability of private schools to cherry-pick the best kids but I can say that public schools in many places are unacceptable because the students are not focused on learning. Good school, good teacher, scary classmates.

    Noticed that Johnson is building a coalition of strong African American women (mothers) whom he has supported at pivotal political times:

    Karen Bogans: Spelman graduate; considered run for Congress in Savannah against Rep. Barrows; Johnson was supportive.

    Regina Thomas: ran for Congress in Savannah; Johnson was supportive.

    Alisha Thomas Morgan: Spelman graduate; considered run for Congress; destined for the national political arena (in this writer’s opinion); Eric Johnson gets heat from the Cobb Co. GOP for donating to her campaign.

    Mark my word, the Dem Team needs to revisit vouchers or it’s a wedge issue to separate African American parents and the Dems in the future.

  18. Icarus says:

    Politicians offer lip service, but anytime standards are raised or accountability is requested, teachers, school boards, and democrats in general get their panties in a wad, cry about funding shortfalls, whine about teacher salaries, etc.

    Sounds pretty topical. GA, under Kathy Cox, has raised standards, and given a corresponding harder benchmark test in the CRCT. Test scores went down. Instead of looking at this as a necessary part of producing smarter kids, everyone is upset that the scores are lower.

    I’m still lost as to how we expect to get more out of the students, while still making sure they’re never challenged beyond their ability.

  19. tb says:

    My point in the original post, that more choices given to the parents did help improve student achievement because of the competition. Correct it was not a voucher program, sorry if I wasn’t clear.

  20. Progressive Dem says:


    I believe Gov. Barnes – a Democrat – passed reforms calling for higher standards and teacher accountability. Unfortunately, we don’t know what a sustained effort would have produced. What has Gov. Purdue and the Republican legislature done for public education?

    I don’t want to see more money thrown into the system. I think there are ways to improve education without spending vast sums of new money. However, we should recognize that a big part of the problem lays with parents. The schools have that kid for 8 hours 180 days a year. If that student goes home to uninvolved parents or a lousy family life, it won’t matter what we spend. We need some resources to spend on the students and families at the bottom of the barrell to break some of the problems of abuse, drugs/alcohol, teen pregnancy, unemployment and poor health. The public school system cannot fix these problems and competition for tax revenues is irrelevant to these problem.

  21. GOPeach says:

    Dr. Cindye Coates is running for STATE HOUSE in COBB COUNTY where schools are typically good. However she also has a backbone to team up with Sen. Eric Johnson on the SCHOOL CHOICE legislation.

  22. John Konop says:


    Kathy Cox did not raise standards. She lowered standards for gifted students and changed the focus for vocational students toward a college bound mandatory classes. The person who fixes my car or cuts my hair may not be able to do algebra 2 but they do provide a skill I can not do and need.

    Kathy Cox failed because her one size fit all strategy will not work bottom line.

  23. Goldwater Conservative says:

    She is smarter than a fifth grader though!

    I am not certain how many people are with me on this, but economics are interesting.

    If we start handing out coupons to the people that can afford to put their children in private school the school will increase tuition correspondingly.

    How does that help anybody?

  24. tb says:

    Precisely why you hand out vouchers to everyone so people can have a little more control over their own destiny, even the poor kids from south fulton.

  25. Bill Simon says:

    “She is smarter than a fifth grader though!”

    No, she has not actually proven that. There was no 5th grader on that stage facing the same question she was.

    Ergo, the show, like our friggin state public schools, is all about promotion for entertainment purposes only.

  26. ramblinwreck says:

    H2O cons; if the number of private schools held constant prices would go up as demand increased. However, if every kid had a voucher for $5K or so you would see a lot more schools, more competition for the vouchers and prices at the more established schools might go up but they probably wouldn’t stay there.

    Its time to quit punishing people just because they can afford it. Give everybody the vouchers.

  27. Dave Bearse says:

    The Georgia GOP moves on to education vouchers, having done so well last session with tax cuts and the state budget, and having previously solved the state’s transportation and water problems. Why do something difficult when you can meddle with yet another red meat issue without producing results.

  28. jsm says:

    At least the GOP discussed & debated tax cuts. That’s more than we got from the democrats. Also, I don’t remember Georgia democrats doing anything meaningful with transportation or water in the last 50 years.

  29. bickelj says:

    Introduced in 1955 by American economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, school vouchers are rooted in basic free-market theory.

    The free-market theory that government should pay for individuals’ goods and services? I call that socialism. But with socialism the government picks and chooses standards for public funding. This voucher scheme is dangerous because it’s distributing taxpayer money irrespective of what is taught. That is not fair to anyone. Eventually, with all this money being funneled through government, we’ll end up back where we started — state rules about how many minutes are spent doing what for schools in poor areas, and very limited freedom for schools in rich areas.

    Taft, ramblinwreck, and Goldwater close to the right track here: throwing money at the problem doesn’t help, it’s still redistribution of wealth (theft).

    SavannahDem, (former) conservatives have been fooled into these Chicago school schemes for “incentivizing.” Instead of allowing the free market to operate, where individuals use their own resources to solve their own problems, the Chicago school teaches us we should use government to provide incentives, and pretend it’s free market economics.

    I don’t believe all of educations problems can be solved by the free market, but I know for a fact that the majority of the problems have been introduced by government. Get big government out as much as possible: end standardized testing, end compulsory education, end federal intervention wholly, end state intervention wholly, allow parents to decide with their own dollars, or at least allow cities and counties to decide.

  30. Dave Bearse says:

    Come on, jsm…..The massive metro Atlanta freeway capacity expansion of the 80’s and 90’s and MARTA have been meaningful, and water wasn’t an issue until this decade. What isn’t meaningful is talk about tax cuts when the budget isn’t balanced or spending controlled.

  31. tb says:


    I don’t think the money is coming all from property tax. Property tax is dedicated to the brick and mortar buildings, (captial expenditures) not instruction.

  32. tocallaghan says:

    The voucher system is paid for by the existing money that goes to public schools.
    The real problem with the system is the class warfare of private school kids not getting a voucher also.

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