Not too long ago, $26,000 would buy you a couple of years at a good public university, including room and board.

These days, that will cover the costs for your child to attend one year at some of the private K12 schools in the DC area. And that’s cheap compared to the more than $31,000 charged by some schools in New York City.

The high prices have administrators at some second tier schools worried over whether they can fill all those expensive seats (top tier institutions have more applications than they can handle). But they are also concerned about driving out low and middle income families.

I wonder why these private schools cost so much. Compared to public schools, most pay their teachers less, their books and computers cost pretty much the same, and their buildings are often subsidized by other institutions, fund raisers and tax breaks.

Most private schools do feature much smaller class sizes which increases costs. However, most also don’t take students with special (and expensive) educational needs.

None of this is meant to be a criticism of private schools (hold those emails!). Most of them in this area are very good and I have a few friends who teach in the best of them. They should be able to charge what the market will bear.

But reading about the high cost of a private K12 education generates a question about vouchers in my warped little mind.

How can supporters of these programs claim that the educational private sector will do a better job for the same or less than what is being spent on public schools now?

We already know there’s no support for the general statement that a private school education is better than a public school education. And from here, it sure doesn’t look cheaper.

private school, voucher