Friends With Benefits?

Q: What is the relationship between school spending and learning?

Via Joanne Jacob's blog, here is an article by Marcus Winters:

That $12,922, remember, is a national average; spending in urban public school systems is often far higher.

The Cato Institute’s Adam Schaeffer recently calculated total expenditures per pupil for public school systems in America’s five largest metropolitan areas and Washington, D.C. Washington spent the most—an average of $28,000 per public school student, which was more than the maximum tuition charged to attend such prestigious private schools as Lowell School ($25,120), Sheridan School ($24,700), and Georgetown Visitation School ($20,600), and only slightly below the maximum tuition charged at St. Albans ($31,428), National Cathedral School ($30,700), and Georgetown Day ($29,607).

I looked up the Schaeffer paper. It's here. Schaeffer digs into the typically cited per-pupil spending for several large districts, and then -- by poring over various documents -- his view of the true per pupil spending. He finds many districts spend way more than people realize, by omitting various categories of spending from the easy-to-find versions of the budget.

Hmm. Thought experiment. Let's say the government gave each parent of a typical Washington DC Public School student a $28,000/year voucher tomorrow. And then the mothers of all the three-year-olds -- I'd estimate 4,000+ -- walked over to Georgetown Prep. And said: "Can we all have Pre-K applications?"

What would happen?