Real Clear Policy has a column here advocating different education methods for “faith-based” schools, so they will be in a better position to get vouchers. He argues that parochial schools do a much better job educating children for much less money, and supports his point by showing how per pupil costs have increased since 1961 for public school children.
You can’t make meaningful comparisons between spending in 1961 and now, or spending between private and public schools without talking about special education costs. About thirteen percent of public school students receive special education services (National Center for Education Statistics).
I can’t find the source, but I’ve read that all of the increase in per pupil cost has been due to special education. I do know that some students with severe special needs cost their districts over a hundred thousand dollars a year. Students with milder disabilities can also be very expensive to educate. Schools are being flooded with children on the autism spectrum now, and even those on the less severe end can require a designated tutor to accompany them all day so they can manage mainstream classes.
So I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Kennedy is advocating. Don’t provide services to these children to keep costs down? Just forget about them when figuring out cost comparisons?
I’ve taught in both public and parochial schools. The disabled students I’ve had in my public school classrooms would never have gotten past the admission office of any of the parochial schools I taught in. And this doesn’t even count all of the students my public school paid for, who were too disabled to be educated in a regular classroom. We had some who required residential special ed. placements. You don’t think that’s expensive?