Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Income Redistribution Summer Program Style
From high school through graduate school study abroad programs are always iffy. I did not realize it completely until one of my high school age kids asked about going abroad on a program offered by a teacher at his school. When I checked it all out, I realized that if the professor got enough students to sign up, he and a partner could go free. And, behind it all was essentially a travel agency that arranged everything. The teacher was for all practical purposes the agent of the agency casting about for students.
But that does not really take the cake. It might well had been worth it to have a chaperoned trip to Europe or where ever.
What takes the cake is more like this. A public law school offers study abroad summer programs. The school pays the teachers' salaries and the students pay enough for their own housing, meals, and transportation and for the housing and transportation of the professors. This is great for the professors and the students. The students get credit while essentially hanging out. Not so great for taxpayers. They are the ones who foot the bill for the biggest expense of all - tens of thousands of dollars for teachers teaching a handful of the students.
But wait! What's the big deal. This is the way public schools work after all. Taxpayers pay and students are subsidized.
The little twist is that, as you look over a sea of students, which ones would you expect to be the ones who can pass up summer jobs and afford to travel abroad for six or seven weeks on their own dime? I'll go way out on a limb and suggest it is, not always but most of the time, the relatively affluent ones. When you get down to it, it is a matter of taxing everyone in order for the well to do to have a good time abroad. After all, we would not want the rich to actually pay the full cost of educating them in places those paying the tab can only hope to go.