C) Fraud, Waste, And Accountability

This criticism of market-based choice rests on the claim "that consumer choice imposes costs on both providers and shoppers." [69] The concern is "that buyers will be forced by false and misleading claims made by sellers." [70] Many fear parents will be influenced to make selections on the wrong basis or to adopt the wrong objectives. [71] In essence, this claim says once we free the market from monopolies, otherwise avoidable decision-making costs and search costs are imposed on society. [72]

While possessing a surface appeal, this allegation is essentially a false argument of those who favor the current entrenched bureaucracy which drains an ever increasing amount of money from taxpayers. The real question is whether given a choice, parents can act responsibly, intelligently and carefully when the education of their children is at stake. When asked this question, the available data suggests a compelling answer: Yes. Public opinion polls indicate that ninety-five percent of those polled if allowed to choose for instance a public school, would inquire about the quality of the teaching staff, the maintenance of school discipline, and the courses offered. [73] Moreover, most respondents would examine the track record of graduates in high school, college, and on the job, as well as test scores of students and class size. [74] Furthermore, statistics indicate minority group members favor choice to a greater extent than whites, an excellent indication that blacks and minorities are well informed regarding the deficiencies of neighborhood public schools, and as a result, are in a better position to make decisions than unelected bureaucrats.

The perception that America's schools underperform, especially in large urban areas has been held for quite some time by members of low-income groups. This view is now grudgingly shared by a few special interest group leaders. Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers Union with which Detroit's public teachers are affiliated recently stated that United States public schools are "really bad". How bad are things'? Shanker said "95 percent of the kids who go to college in the United States would not be admitted to college anywhere else in the world." [75] This is true of Detroit's public school students in spite of the fact that both Detroit Public School spending per pupil and the rate of expenditure increase is substantially higher than in Detroit's private schools. In comparing fraud, waste and accountability, the record is clear: private schools are less susceptible to fraud and waste and they are assuredly more accountable. Significant numbers of parents in low-income areas of the city of Detroit have assessed the quality of the teaching staffs, school discipline, course offerings as well as the track record of graduates. Despite their meager economic resources, these parents have placed their children in private schools and that is testimony to their ability to make informed consumer decisions while holding schools accountable.

It seems clear that if full-blown choice is adopted and funded at the same level per child as public education the total public expenditures for education cost could rise since between 11 and 14% of children attend private schools nationally. In the city of Detroit about 10 percent of the students attend private schools. If choice is adopted, those students who now attend private schools would be eligible for funds on an equal and non-discriminatory basis. Therefore, choice could increase the overall cost of education in Michigan. We suggest, however, that the voucher or tax credit be set equal to 90% of available public school funding to account for this problem. Accordingly, as more public school students elect to attend private schools, less public money will be spent.