The Eventual Cost to taxpayers if the Public Schools are replaced with for-profit Charters

26 Oct

On Diane Ravitch’s Blog, a regular called Teaching Economist (TE) left a comment, and asked: “Do you think that the well-known private schools like Dalton, the Lab Schools, Phillips Exeter, etc. are run ‘like a business’?”

Answer: Yes, TE, Dalton, the Lab Schools, and Phillips Exeter are run like businesses just like Stanford and Harvard and they cost about the same.

Dalton’s—in New York State—annual tuition for day students is currently $41,350, and Business Insider reported that Dalton as one of the 28 most expensive private high schools in America.

Where’s the Common Core test prep? When does Dalton give their students bubble tests to evaluate the teachers? This is what a student gets for more than $41,000 annually.

For the Lab Schools in Washington DC, 2014-2015 tuition was: Elementary – $39,600; Intermediate – $39,600; Junior High – $40,350, and High School – $41,995.

For the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, the tuition and mandatory fees are: Boarding – $47,790, and Day – $36,800.

Now that we have the private school tuition, let’s compare that with what the taxpayer pays for the k – 12 public schools in those states.

Current spending per pupil in New York State in 2011 was $19,076; in New Hampshire it was $13,224, and in the District of Columbia (D.C.) it was $18,475.

Wow, if we are going to switch over to for-profit Charters that are run like Dalton, the Lab Schools, and Phillips Exeter, then the taxes that support the public schools will have to go up dramatically like a rocket on the way to Mars.

For instance, in New York State, taxes that support k – 12 education will have to go up about 117% or $22,274 per student so the for-profit Charter schools will make the shareholders happy as they count their increased wealth.

What about New Hampshire? What will the tax payer have to pay to support the new wave of for-profit Charter schools in that state? For just the day students, there will eventually be an increase in state taxes of 128% or $16,904 per student.

Then we have Washington DC’s Lab Schools high school tuition of $41,995.  To support the profit for that business, k -12 education taxes in D.C. will have to go up more than 127% or an additional $23,520 per student.

Remember, in the corporate world profits are god and once the public school competition is gone, do you really think those corporations aren’t going to want more money from the tax payers?

In fact, we already have the answer, because for-profit Charter schools in New York, Washington D.C., and North Carolina are already suing their states for more money.

Let’s crunch some numbers to discover how much this might eventually cost the U.S. taxpayers.

In 2010-11, k – 12 public school expenditures for the United States averaged $11,153 per student. The average for schools like Dalton, the Lab Schools, and Phillips Exeter is about $40 thousand per student—an increase of 359% over the cost of running the public schools. This adds up to a total of about $2.3 Trillion in annual taxes to support the for-profit Charter school industry instead of the bargain price of $632 billion currently being spent annually to support the public schools.

One last question: Where will the at-risk kids go—those children who live in poverty and are the most difficult to teach—when they are kicked out, because that’s what is already happening in many of the for-profit Charter schools?


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).


His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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One response to “The Eventual Cost to taxpayers if the Public Schools are replaced with for-profit Charters

  1. Proud To Be Progressive

    October 26, 2014 at 17:12

    I never have been and never will be a proponent of charter schools. In my opinion, they are just another excuse for privatizing what should be a treasured public institution. Great post.


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