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Competition improves educational programs

In a letter to the editor, the president of the Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers’ Association wrote that taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to subsidize private schools. He justifies his position by noting that there are municipal golf courses, taxpayer provided, that are available to use. If one doesn’t like them, one is free to join a country club. He compares providing tax breaks to parents who choose to send their children to private schools as equivalent to subsidizing someone’s club expenses.

His example undercuts his position. The fact is that the taxpayers provide only the golf course, itself. The golfers pay the operating expenses; the taxpayers don’t subsidize their rounds of golf. Following his reasoning, the taxpayers should provide only the capital for the schools. The operating costs should be paid by the users. Since the operating costs account for 85 percent to 90 percent of a school’s total costs, I am quite sure that taxpayers with no kids in school would be overjoyed at seeing their school-related taxes drop.

Let’s be clear; his position is that the public schools should not have to compete for students. Competition is an anathema to them. As anyone who has taken an economics course knows, monopolies result in higher prices and lower quantities. If people want to send their children to a private school, they should still be compelled to buy public schooling, in his view. General Motors wouldn’t have gone broke if it had been able to require anyone who wanted to buy another manufacturer’s vehicles to still buy a GM product even if it just rusted away. Having the public fund education is not the same thing as having the government provide it.

James M. Mulcahy

Grand Island