University of Arkansas professor Patrick Wolf recently concluded a study of the voucher program in D.C. The study concludes that this simple, six-year program was able to increase graduation rates among students in D.C. Students who attended private schools through the scholarship program were 21% more likely to graduate than their peers who did not participate in the program. Surprisingly, the voucher program was able to produce these results for less than one-third of the cost per pupil of what the D.C. public schools spend.
Wolf reports that these findings are incredibly important because “high school graduation is strongly associated with a large number of important life outcomes such as lifetime earnings, longevity, avoiding prison and out-of-wedlock births, and marital stability. Academic achievement, in contrast, is only weakly associated with most of those outcomes.” This scholarship program has greatly benefited the students who have had the life-changing opportunity to participate in the program.
Further, this study evidences the fact that spending is not the cause of the problem with our public schools. Rather, the study shows that the main culprit is the lack of competition within public education. If schools do not have to compete for students, they have no reason to ensure they are producing a quality product at a reasonable price. Because private schools are forced to compete for students, they are forced to give students a quality education at a reasonable price. Throwing more money at schools will not fix the problem.
True school choice is needed to reform the education system in America. Voucher programs, like this program in D.C., are a step in the right direction. As these programs begin to expand, the future becomes increasingly brighter for our children.
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