School Choice and Your Child’s Tuition

by Edward Murray

School choice has been a debated topic for many years, and while you may be thinking it’s a good thing, there are compelling reasons to reconsider. Although it is sometimes difficult to determine causation from correlation, there is the potential-future issue of inflating tuition rates due to state funding. Consider St. Paul Catholic school in St. Petersburg, Florida, which recently explicitly stated that they would raise the price of admission with the new voucher program. 

Florida’s new voucher law allows private schools to boost revenue

On the face of it, one would think that state funding to aid families’ migration to the free market would be a positive. Of course, from that statement alone, it’s obvious that anything state-funded can’t be free market; these are diametrically opposed ideas. But just for argument’s sake, let’s consider with the prevailing idea that more money given yields more opportunity for choice.

Wouldn’t this bring costs down? Likewise, shouldn’t all U.S. families be on board with vouchers, ESAs, tax-credits and the like?

For some time now, many in the home and private school world have been sounding the alarm on these so-called school-choice policies. The primary issue raised concerns parental autonomy vs. state accountability (tantamount to coerced regulation). Let’s face it, when any policy is put on the books for spending, rarely does the growth of regulation shrink or go away. It typically grows. Regulation always follows funding.


For more on funding and regulation:

“I Run a Private School and am Against School Vouchers. Here’s Why.” By Marsha Familiaro Enright.

“ESAs: What You Need to Know with Israel Wayne.” Refining Rhetoric, Episode 31. Feb. 1, 2023.


And we want it that way, right? If the government is going to spend our tax dollars, don’t we want them to track the money and assure us it is spent responsibly? Again, this regulation over parental choice is the very reason why private options exist.

State-Funded ‘Choice’ Will Inevitably Inflate the Cost of Private Education

However, there is another principle that private educators warn of: State-funded “choice” will inevitably inflate the cost of private education.

Consider the fact that all organizations need money to sustain their work, whether for the short or the long-term. As long as decisions don’t sink the buyability of a product, given the opportunity, companies will consider how better to fund their work.

This is exactly what is happening with St. Paul Catholic in Florida. After Gov. DeSantis (R) signed into law the state’s newest voucher program, representatives of the school stated, “…we decided that we need to take maximum advantage of this dramatically expanded funding source.”

“So instead of paying $6,000 per child, families at the school who are St. Paul parish members will now be charged $10,000 per child. Nonmembers will be charged $12,000 per child, instead of $7,000. Discounts for multiple-student families will be eliminated. Based on those numbers, and factoring in the $4,000 tuition increase, St. Paul could bring in nearly $1 million more in the school year starting this fall. Voucher critics said the decision was predictable, and expected more private schools to follow suit…”

Of course, one might argue that this still mitigates the cost of the program (likely only to aid families who can still afford it), and this would be true… at least for the present. However, keep in mind the annual increases in private K-12 and higher education.

From my experience working in higher ed. (public and private) …not only does tuition tend to increase every year, but institutional administrators always also factor in going rates for other similar institutions competitive in the same fields. Also, keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily popular to gravitate towards the cheaper education option. Rather, many opt for the more expensive programs because cost often indicates quality (i.e., people reason, “the greater the cost, the better the education”).

Moreover, even if tuition doesn’t appear to increase on the surface, an increase in tuition paid might occur even if the sticker face remains unchanged. These increased, hidden dollars are typically reflected in other ancillary fees and like charges.

Currently, it can be a little hard to examine the U.S. statistics due to the infancy of these programs.[1] However, many who claim that there is no data for inflation should rather backtrack that notion.  Barnum notes that some school choice programs (ones with unrestricted subsidies) “lead to price increases yet no change in enrollment…” He continues, “…private schools did not admit additional students, but did raise tuition — by an amount the researchers estimated to be roughly the same as the public subsidy.”[2]

Consider Ty Rushing who recently reported how Iowa’s private schools hiked their tuitions in response to Gov. Kim Reynold’s (R) voucher-ESA plan.

“While some private schools introduced minimal tuition increases—Holy Trinity Catholic School in Fort Madison increased tuition by less than a percent for parish members and about 3% for non-parish members—others swung for the fences including one Dubuque school that increased tuition by 40%, or an Anamosa school that literally doubled tuition.[3]

Of course, I don’t blame them for wanting to better their programs, increase their functionality and provide adequate salaries for teachers. But one can’t deny the obvious connection. Brian Mudd (who denies the connection) even argues,

“In attempting to discern what the impact of school vouchers may mean for tuition rates it’s helpful to see how much capacity there is within the existing private schools as it’s unlikely rates would be increased unless they’re at capacity with demand outstripping supply.”[4]

Yet, this is exactly the state of hundreds of private institutions needing to make ends meet.

At the end of all this, maybe St. Paul’s decision doesn’t seal the deal for many to correlate state funds and increasing tuition. Yet, the argument is not without warrant. It is worth everyone’s consideration, especially those who grasp the current political climate, who understand the dangers of our ever-increasing debt, and who are concerned with expanding government overreach (which is embedded in all our collective COVID-19 trauma).

Holly Bullard, Chief Strategy Officer for Florida Policy Institute, states, “Tuition is going to keep increasing, because they’re going to keep raising the voucher amount.” With many raising the alarm, we should all heed the caution and prepare for tax increases to pay for these schemes.


[1] Hungerman and Rinz (Notre Dame and NBER) cite a study by Angrist, Bettinger, Bloom, King, and Kremer (2002), who find that winning a lottery in Bogot ́a for a voucher worth $190 raised average private school tuition and fees by $52, so that every dollar of voucher funding raised tuition and fees by about 27 cents, close to what the point estimate here suggests (vouchers worth $820 per user on average increase per-student revenue by $280 at baseline, or about 34 cents per dollar spent on vouchers).

[2] Barnum, Matt, Do vouchers actually expand school choice? Not necessarily — it depends on how they’re designed.” Chalkbeat, June 20, 2017. https://www.chalkbeat.org/2017/7/30/21107261/do-vouchers-actually-expand-school-choice-not-necessarily-it-depends-on-how-they-re-designed

[3] Rushing, Ty, “Kim Reynold’s Private School Voucher Plan Led to Tuition Hikes.” Iowa Starting Line, May 12, 2023. https://iowastartingline.com/2023/05/12/kim-reynolds-private-school-voucher-plan-led-to-tuition-hikes/

[4] Mudd, Brian, “Q&A: Will Florida’s Universal School Choice Plan Raise Tuition Rates?” News Radio WJNO, iHeart.com. May 28, 2023. https://wjno.iheart.com/featured/brian-mudd/content/2023-03-28-qa-will-floridas-universal-school-choice-plan-raise-tuition-rates/

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects & Policy Research for Classical Conversations and The Homeschool Freedom Action Center. He is a native of Augusta, GA, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC where he earned his M.Div. He currently lives with in Newport News, VA with his wife and three children.

Brushfires of Freedom

By Carolyn Martin

[Reprinted from the CHEC Homeschool Update, Volume 2, Issue #116, 2023. 720-842-4852. CHEC.org]

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” — Samuel Adams

Early in our nation’s history, brushfires of freedom sustained our independence from a tyrannical empire. Other brushfires throughout our history brought forward a civil war, women’s suffrage, civil rights, abortion rights, marriage rights, and, more recently, gender rights. Not all these brushfires fulfilled the desired rallying cry of freedom because they were not grounded in God’s righteousness.

Today, a brushfire is sweeping across the nation calling itself “school choice.” A majority of state legislatures introduced bills this year to establish programs to fund private schools and home education.

Not a True Choice

In the early years of the homeschool movement, a spark grew into a brushfire of freedom in large part because families were willing to sacrifice for the cause. For the Christians in the movement, God’s command to disciple their children was the central driving force. They saw clearly the trajectory of the government schools and its goal of stealing the souls of their children. Despite the real threat of being imprisoned, following God was not an option; it was the only choice.

Purveyors of the school choice movement are trying to convince homeschoolers that government money provides a way for families to choose the best education for their children. But what they’re selling is a false choice. All the choices they are presenting will be ruled by government bureaucrats. We all inherently know: what the government funds, the government runs.

Most of the “school choice” bills introduced this year include bigger government and increased regulations for private and home educators who choose to accept taxpayer funds. Big, new government bureaucracies in partnership with private entities are built to manage the oversight of the funding. Requirements for homeschoolers using the funding often include frequent meetings with certified teachers, usage of curriculum tied to state standards, and yearly testing. Basically, it’s public school at home. A choice we’ve already rejected.

True Brushfires of Freedom

It is time to rekindle the sparks that began the homeschool movement some fifty years ago and revive the brushfire of educational freedom. Government-funded programs will never bring God’s truth to bear on the realities of this world. Brushfires begin within each heart and mind that is set on the truth of God’s Word. Jesus set us free and gave us liberty; it is this truth that God commands us to set ablaze in our children.

School choice advocates are relying on the greed of man to propel their cause. Politicians, nonprofits, and governments benefit from the enlargement of the government-funded and run education system and the number of people growing dependent on it. Yet, our cause rests in the humility of utter reliance on God for our very breath and a growing awe of who He is. The time has come to set afresh the brushfire that first brought us freedom and to lead others — especially our children — to the liberty found only in Jesus.

Carolyn Martin, CHEC’s Director of Government Relations, and her husband, Todd, began homeschooling their three children in upstate New York before moving to Colorado in 2004. Her passion is to see homeschooling remain free from government intrusion for future generations.

To learn more about Christian Home Educators of Colorado, please visit CHEC.org.

Arguing Against School Choice

By Lauren Gideon

I recently wrapped up a year leading Challenge A with Classical Conversations (CC) students. On our last day, the students took turns reading their assigned persuasive essays. While each student chooses his/her own topic, two of the students had chosen the same topic. 

But… **dramatic pause… they chose different sides!  

When the second student finished reading his essay that argued opposite to the first, do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing! In fact, the entire class sat unfazed and the next student began to read his essay. They didn’t rush to take sides, they didn’t vote against or ‘cancel’ the minority opinions… no name calling, and no identity crises. These students haven’t been taught to be offended.  

They have been taught to look at the merits of an idea as a distinct thing, regardless of the person, their character, their tribe, their emotions, its perceived urgency, and the many other distractions that keep us from discerning the idea’s own merit. We call these logical fallacies and our students learn how to set them aside and simply ask, “Is this a good idea, or not?”  

The students’ “non-reaction” is so profound because, as adults in the classroom of the world, we know participants are almost always “triggered” and public discourse seems to revolve around every angle EXCEPT actual merit. If we want to be virtuous participants in this sphere, the question we must first ask ourselves is, “In what way do I need to remove similar logs from my own eyes?” With log-less vision we will see issues more clearly.

Another hinderance to our clear vision is social cliques. Our objectivity can be blurred when everyone in our perceived tribe seems to be unified in their position.  A prominent topic that is plagued with these types of emotional baggage is “School Choice”.

“School Choice” is Misleading 

Some advocates of “school choice” begin their appeal through statistical argument. A recent publication opened with the 2022 Real Clear Politics Poll that argued that “72% of Americans support school choice— the ability of parents to choose the school that best fits their children’s needs.”

Why is this significant? First, this communicates the sentiment that “virtually everybody agrees”. If this premise was asserted in my Challenge A classroom, students would instinctively reply, “So what?” This says nothing about whether the viewers should agree with this issue or not.” We call this a bandwagon fallacy.

Additionally, the term “School Choice” itself suffers from equivocation. Presently, educational options are legal and available in all 50 states, meaning that proponents equivocate “School Choice” with “taxpayer funding for free-market products”.  

The label “School Choice” forces critics to take an “anti-choice” position.  

Can you think of another political movement that has lead this way? This idea has nothing to do with providing more choices. Its singular operative action is to require taxpayers to fund alternatives to the state-provided option. The question that needs an honest answer is, “should they?”  

Should taxpayers be forced to fund the free-market? Moreover, how do legislatures ensure that this money is being spent on the type of quality education that is in the public’s best interest (…or for the government’s interest)? What accountability will follow this money to ensure it is spent the way these well-intended policies intend?  Historically, how well has state government preformed this task with their current educational jurisdiction? To what degree could this idea potentially affect the cost and quality of educational options? Does the free-market stay ‘free’ once it is tax-payer funded?

Fundamentally, do we really want to expand state sponsored/regulated education, or expand actual free-market educational choice? As the emotions rise among voices on both sides of this issue, remember that the collective conversation does obligate participants to regard “sides” or emotional manipulation. This issue, like all issues, ought to be about ideas and not the people who hold them. This IS about a choice: the choice to lay aside these culturally acquired discernment liabilities and use those beautiful, classical tools from Challenge A. 

Lauren Gideon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their 7 children on their small acreage where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

A Generation of Transformation: Radical Reversal of Culture from Family to Government

By Regina Piazza

What is one thing public education and home education have in common?

The obvious answer would be . . . education. However, as we see in Vladimir Lenin’s ominous promise—“Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world”—perhaps transformation is the true common denominator, as transformation is always the goal of education. Therefore, at the heart of the question of whom we trust to educate our children lies the bigger question of whom we trust to transform our world.

Education in America Is Eroding

Four decades ago, Former President Ronald Reagan illuminated the outcome of trusting the declining public school systems in his 1983 report titled A Nation at Risk:

“Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people . . .

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves . . . .

Our concern, however, goes well beyond matters such as industry and commerce [i.e. STEM & College and Career Ready]. It also includes the intellectual, moral, and spiritual strengths of our people which knit together the very fabric of our society.”

Are We Embracing Socialism?

Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation states, “When one-in-four Americans want to eliminate capitalism and embrace socialism, we know that we have failed to educate about the historical and moral failings of these ideologies.” This startling statistic is widely evident in the government-controlled school systems’ promotion of Critical Race Theory (CRT), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and LGBTQ++ coercion, where children are deceitfully maneuvered from parental teaching to state indoctrination.

Undeniably, a parent is charged to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”(Proverbs 22:6); however, in an act of calculated division, totalitarians such as Hitler, Lenin, and Mao have used this proverb in their attempts to eradicate the family and shape the minds of the upcoming generation with the intent to, in those infamous words of Lenin, “. . . transform the whole world.” This exceedingly conspicuous tactic is front and center throughout America today, and has been clearly spelled out in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4 of the United Nations Agenda 2030, with which the United States has cooperated:

“Our vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development and in achieving the other proposed SDGs. We commit with a sense of urgency to a single, renewed education agenda that is holistic, ambitious and aspirational, leaving no one behind. This new vision is fully captured by the proposed SDG 4 ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and its corresponding targets. It is transformative and universal, attends to the ‘unfinished business’ of the EFA [Education For All] agenda and the education-related MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], and addresses global and national education challenges. It is inspired by a humanistic vision of education and development based on human rights and dignity; social justice; inclusion; protection; cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity; and shared responsibility and accountability.”

Is the intent of this agenda not clearly stated—“to transform lives” through global state control of education and the Marxist indoctrination of children?

The Family is the Solution

This agenda is in stark contrast to American parents’ unique success in cultivating a firm foundation of freedom in our nation, even before the development of our Constitution. Historically, American families have worked, worshiped, and educated while being undergirded with the self-evident truth that sacrifice over self-service, and self-governance over government restraint cultivates freedom, yet our modern families continue to succumb to the subtle and consistent conditioning toward the UN’s divisive preference to bring all schools under government control.

Now, more than any time in our nation’s history, is the time for parents to boldly and courageously assert our inherent responsibility to direct the upbringing and education of our children and vehemently reject the UN report’s claim that “the State remains the duty bearer of education as a public good.”

Now is the time for families to awaken from their self-imposed financial slumber, revive atrophied personal civic responsibilities, recalibrate family priorities, and recapture their God-given right to educate by exiting the institutions of indoctrination—the government-controlled K–12 schooling systems.

Now is the time for families to cultivate and practice ownership and discipline with the honorable motive of self-governance and freedom.

Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation, states, “If a nation takes on the character of its people then our classrooms are ultimately about formation of citizens and souls.” Family is the best classroom—not government, entitlements, or vouchers.

Family necessitates devotion to one another, to our work, and to our inheritance.

Family promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, and is the most trustworthy institution in civilization.

Family teaches that work is worship, and you must pay your own way—freedom’s prerequisites.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms.”3

Through devotion, sacrifice, and commitment, the family establishes, inculcates, and maintains freedom. Families, therefore, are incomparable educators and the trustworthy remnant to guarantee that enduring transformation occurs in the world.

Regina Piazza is a thirteen-year home educator with Classical Conversations and has held multiple roles including Tutor, Director, and Support Representative. She is a former Air Force veteran and two-time business owner who ran for Florida State Senate for the first time in 2022. She is currently working to preserve education and religious freedom as Classical Conversation’s Florida State Advocate.

To hear more from Regina, check out Episode 24 of our podcast, Refining Rhetoric, “Why a Homeschool Mom Ran for Senate with Regina Piazza.”

Is Public Education Necessary?

Save the date for Unfragmented, a new book club hosted by our very own Leigh Bortins, beginning Thursday, May 4, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. EST. Just click the Unfragmented book club banner on the home page of Leigh’s website to find the Zoom link and join in the discussion.

May will feature author Samuel Blumenfeld’s book, Is Public Education Necessary? No preparation is required, but it helps to have the book in hand. Enjoy the relaxed conversation!

“In early American history, a literate and well-educated majority of Americans thrived without a national, tax-funded educational program. In fact, few of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and drafted the U.S. Constitution had ever seen a public school, and yet they benefitted from a free system of education vastly superior to the imagined benefits of today’s state-controlled schooling.

“What happened over the course of the last two and a half centuries? Why did Americans surrender the educational freedom that produced such widespread academic excellence to embrace a state of functional illiteracy under complete government control?

“In his seminal book Is Public Education Necessary?, Samuel Blumenfeld unpacks two centuries of source material to present an accurate history of the religious and philosophical transformations that gave birth to the educational statism controlling America’s children today.

“From the New England Puritan experiments in compulsory schooling to the Unitarian crusades to perfect man with the ‘strong arm of government,’ Blumenfeld shows that public education in America has always been more about religion than literacy.

“A colorful history full of fascinating characters and incisive commentary, Is Public Education Necessary? challenges American parents to discard the common wisdom concerning public schools—to reshoulder the responsibilities that are rightfully theirs, to fight to keep the liberties they inherited, and to teach their children to do the same.”

Is Public Education Necessary?, American Vision

North Carolina Parents Should Be Wary of ‘School Choice’ Bill

By Robert Bortins

Politicians in Raleigh want to transform our freedoms with House Bill 420, giving state bureaucrats more control over North Carolinians’ educational options, consequently driving up prices, reducing quality and innovation, and normalizing state welfare checks for the middle class and wealthy — all in the name of “school choice.” But the fact is, North Carolina already has robust educational choices, and families are enthusiastically enjoying those opportunities. According to a 2022 report from BESTNC.com, approximately 16 percent of North Carolina families homeschool or attend private school. Families already have school choice, and this freedom allows for extraordinary educational innovation and entrepreneurship at a net gain to taxpayers.

For the 280,000 students and their families who have opted out of public education, HB 420 will allow them to collect state welfare checks twice a year to pay for eligible expenses. Further, language in HB 420 will require schools that are currently independent to comply with accreditation agencies to receive those funds, which, in turn, requires unnecessary mandated government and woke accreditation agency oversight. The consequences are significant: increased costs to manage and maintain the schools, potentially forced woke ideological indoctrination, and reduced quality of education due to a client shift — the government, not the families. With shekels come shackles.

You may have noticed that after the federal government flooded our economy with money, the price of every good and service increased significantly. Consider specifically how rising college tuition costs have priced many families out of secondary education; interestingly, despite generous government handouts, college remains unaffordable and unattainable for many. When the government disrupts a market by throwing money into it, the natural outcome is higher prices and lower quality.

I predict this will happen with K–12 education in North Carolina should HB 420 pass in its current form. Private educational savings accounts (ESAs) aren’t a new idea. Indiana has led the way in school choice for more than a decade. Yet, a recent study out of Indiana “did not find statistical evidence that voucher students experience an improvement in their average achievement after baseline the longer they are enrolled in a private school. One might expect that students and their private schools would adjust to better meet the educational needs of voucher students. Collectively, this does not appear to be the case.” In other words, the lackluster results of Indiana’s voucher program, consisting of publicly funded ESAs, demonstrate no statistical improvement in educational outcomes.

Solutions abound. Immediate options for private funding are available, such as academic and athletic scholarships for underserved students attending private schools, educational scholarships from non-profits such as the Homeschool Foundation, which provides resources to those in poverty who choose to homeschool, and scholarships contributed through the community by way of churches and civic groups. North Carolina families are innovative and benevolent; therefore, our families do not require government handouts, nor do they require heavy-handed regulation.

North Carolina is considered one of the best states in the country for educational freedom, and our citizens are freely exercising their inalienable rights. As a Christian and a conservative, I know that HB 420 is wrong for North Carolina because it will drive up prices, reduce quality and innovation, and normalize welfare for the middle class and the rich. Too much money is being spent to provide the freedom that is already ours; that money should stay with the family. Though well-intentioned and honorable, HB 420 is the height of welfare and big government, as there is no such thing as truly free money from the government. Perhaps our legislators should champion our citizens in keeping more of the money they earn instead of redistributing it.

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations®. The company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

This was originally posted in American Thinker, on April 12, 2023. To read the original post, please visit:

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2023/04/north_carolina_parents_should_be_wary_of_school_choice_bill.html