Incentive to Unload the Kids

Any strategy that increases the opportunities for families to choose the schools in which their children will be educated is worth a look, and Governor Carcieri’s proposal to do so by increasing private donations for scholarships appears to be a good one. The dark lining, though, is that it only emphasizes the perverse incentives that public schools have:

With public schools facing a budget crisis of epic proportions, Governor Carcieri on Wednesday called for the General Assembly to double the state tax credit for businesses that donate scholarship money to private and parochial schools.
Carcieri wants to raise the total amount that businesses can donate from $1 million to $2 million at a time when the state faces a projected $220-million deficit this year and a potential deficit of almost twice that much in the coming fiscal year.
“I’m a huge believer that the ladder up is education,” Carcieri told about 200 independent school students, teachers and principals who rallied at the State House on Wednesday. “It’s clear to me that the need is enormous.”

With Tiverton’s financial town meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday and the School Committee’s projected budget currently about $1.5 million or more over what the town can legally provide it, without seeking a special waiver to increase taxes into the double digits, the district has been promoting the notion that it will have to close a grade school and eliminate just about everything outside of the regular classroom in order to make ends meet. I know of at least one family that took the threat of their children’s school closing as the final warning to shift to private school next year.
One might think that school officials would be discouraged at such news, but it doesn’t take much reflection to realize that the incentive is actually for districts to shed students. That alone ought to convince us all that the system is well beyond broken.
With family members having just returned home from out and about, make that at least two families that have interpreted the school district’s signals as reasons to flee.

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