One of the oddest arguments made about school choice is, as argued here, that it is a "subsidy for the wealthy ..." and somehow enriches ... well, I'm not sure who.
In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column, Christian Schneider pointed out that money sent to educate choice students in private schools do not necessarily "cost" the public schools anything. This is because, if the choice program were eliminated, not only tax dollars would return to the public schools. So would the students. Depending on what it would cost the public schools to educate these students, the end of choice would not benefit public schools at all.
Properly managed public schools should lose money only if the marginal cost of educating students lost to schools participating in the choice program exceeds the revenue lost as a result of their departure. Poorly managed public schools with large fixed costs - say districts with huge unfunded legacy costs paying substantial sums to persons who no longer work there or who have large entrenched bureaucracies - may lose money. But that's because those districts need state revenue in excess of the cost of educating current students to pay retiree payments or administrators now serving fewer students.
This is incontestably true, but seems to be a hard concept for choice critics to understand or, at least, to respond to. So the argument is often made that school choice is some sort of "privatization" (it is in one sense, but not in another) that "enriches" somebody. Foundations such as Bradley, Walton or DeVos that spend a lot of money to promote parental choice are said not to "care about" poor kids although, if they don't, just who they do care about it and why they are spending millions of dollars to direct money to poor families is unclear.
It is certainly not students and their families are enriched. In Wisconsin, a family's income must be at the poverty level to participate in the statewide program and no more that 3 x the poverty limit to participate in Milwaukee. It's certainly not school operators. Asking schools to educate kids for amounts well below the average spent in public schools is not a recipe for building wealth. (To be sure, one may be able to find examples of school operators misusing funds but public funds get misused as well. Sadly, such is human nature.)
One might make the argument that taxpayers have been "enriched" because children in choice schools receive an education for less than they do in public schools. Although evidence is limited, these kids seem to do at least as well if not better on some measures.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.