Fair Market Value and the Cost of a High School Diploma

Fair Market Value and the Cost of a High School Diploma - February 14, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Fair Market Value is defined as an estimate of the market value of an item based upon what an informed, willing and unpressured buyer would likely pay to an informed, willing and unpressured seller in the market. Willing Oklahoma buyers meet willing Oklahoma sellers every day in thousands of different types of transactions, even into the education marketplace.

So what are Oklahomans willing to pay for a K-12 education? On one hand, we all agree that an educated citizenry is essential to the survival of our society, but on the other, it is entirely understandable that the value that we place on a child’s education is directly proportional to how close we are to the student.

It is interesting to note how this factors into the amount spent on a K-12 education in Oklahoma.

According to Governing Magazine and based on Census statistics updated in June 2015, Oklahoma spent $7,672 per pupil in 2013 inflation adjusted dollars to educate K-12 students. Theoretically, the value that Oklahoma was willing to place on a student’s education over a 13 year period is $99,736 (which includes the cost of books and transportation and a high percentage of hot meals) for the student to attain a high school diploma.

The website of Casady, a private school in Oklahoma City, states that its tuition is $18,990 per year for high school students. And based upon all Casady tuition rates, the value that Casady parents place on a Casady education is $215,790 paid over a thirteen year period.

Similarly, according to its website, the tuition paid by parents who send their high school student to Heritage Hall, a private school in Oklahoma City, was $18,400 assigning the value of a Heritage Hall education to be $208,035.

However, an “Educational Support” surcharge would increase Heritage Hall’s tuition by $53,425 to $261,460, over 13 years, if the student had average to above average intelligence but needed tutoring due to a “diagnosed mild or moderate learning difference.”

Neither private schools’ tuition included the cost of books, lunches or transportation.

No one should begrudge any parent’s decision to send their child to a private school or the value that the parent places on a private school education. Some people drive expensive cars and others do not. Some live in expensive homes in upscale neighborhoods and others do not. Those decisions are personal and are absolute entitlements.

The injustice comes when persons who value private schools more highly than public schools seek to pull tax dollars away from public education. Up to Five Million Dollars per year of tax dollars are already being funneled to private schools in the form of tax credits authorized by SB969 in 2011. Vouchers for more than Two and a Half Million of tax dollars have been issued to kids in private schools who are on Individualized Educational Plans.

This session, private school proponents want to pass Voucher, Educational Saving Account and Tax Credit legislation that will divert millions more dollars from public education to private schools. Bills to watch include SB609, SB1280, SB1401, HB2003, HB2949, and HB3067.

Some or all of these Bills may pass, but the public needs to decide what is truly fair when it comes to the value of our children.

Questions and comments are welcome. David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.