Myth #13: Private schools will not be able to accommodate the gifts of new students under a school choice plan

School choice opponents often contradict themselves by arguing on one hand that the government school system is doing well and on the other hand that parents who are allowed choices in education will pull their children out of the government system in droves.  But the reality is different:  Private schools currently have the capacity to handle many more students, and there is every reason to believe that market incentives will cause successful schools constantly to expand to accommodate new demand.   

The Facts:

  • Private schools have space for more students.  Few private schools maintain large quantities of unused space.  However, a survey of private schools in Michigan revealed that the schools had classroom seats for more than 55,000 additional students in the 1998-99 school year.[146]  An economic analysis of the Universal Tuition Tax Credit school choice plan estimates that 33,000 students would switch from government to private schools in the first year of the plan.[147]  With more than 1,050 private schools already operating in Michigan, reasonable projections show more than enough room to accommodate new students from families choosing private schools.  Moreover, private schools report that they are ready and willing to expand to meet increased demand.[148]

  • Market incentives will spur schools to meet demand   The laws of supply and demand work in education exactly as they do in other enterprises.  The likely result of freeing the education market is that enough schools would spring up to satisfy the number of the students.  As education author Sheldon Richman has written, "We cannot predict in any detail what would arise in a free market in education.  But we do know that over the past decade, computer and telecommunications technology has changed in a way highly relevant to education.  Today people have on their desks—or in their briefcases—computing power that only a few years ago none but the largest companies could afford.  The price continues to fall . . . .  The possibilities are endless.  It's all the product of the free market, human intelligence, and sand (from which are made silicon chips and fiber optic cables)."[149]

  • A good school choice plan can account for any lack of available school space.  A carefully crafted school choice plan such as the Universal Tuition Tax Credit (UTTC) will account for any lack of space in private schools.  The UTTC involves a nine-year implementation period that allows for the gradual expansion and creation of new high-performing schools.  As parents become increasingly empowered to make true choices about the education of their children, the market will fill the demand for more and better education alternatives.[150] 

[146]       Brouillette, Unused Capacity., available on the Internet at

[147]       Anderson, et al, The Universal Tuition Tax Credit., available on the Internet at

[148]      Brouillette, Unused Capacity., available on the Internet at

[149]      Richman, Separating School & State., p. 89.

[150]       Anderson, et al, The Universal Tuition Tax Credit., available on the Internet at

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