Further Evidence on School Choice

During last week’s hearing on school choice in Pennsylvania, some lawmakers questioned the evidence of the benefits of school choice programs, based on misleading testimony by the PSEA and PSBA. But the evidence is clear.

The Heritage Foundation breaks down the numbers indicating the incredible success of DC’s voucher program. As their rebuttal and official report show:

  • D.C. Public Schools graduation rate: 49 percent.
  • Control group (those students who applied for a voucher but did not receive one) graduation rate: 70 percent.
  • Voucher recipient group (students who applied for a voucher, won the lottery to receive one, but did not necessarily use it) graduation rate: 82 percent.
  • Impact of voucher use: (students who applied for, received, and actually used the voucher to attend a private school) graduation rate: 91 percent.

According to this, it’s pretty hard to discount the success of vouchers. Opponents however like to dispute the facts in support of public schools and “separation of church and state”. As the Center for Education Reform states:

Some people say they’re controversial, but among the families of the nearly 200,000 children who benefit from school choice programs—there’s nothing controversial about them at all. …

  • Students who participated in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program for four years demonstrated significantly higher learning gains in math (11 percentage points) and reading (6 percentage points) than their peers in conventional public schools. In addition, they graduated at a rate that was 18 percent higher than students in conventional public schools.
  • Students who participated in the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program demonstrated a 7- percentage point increase in reading scores and a 15-percentage point increase in math scores over their peers in conventional public schools.
  • Low-income students participating in a Florida corporate voucher program are keeping pace with – and in many cases outpacing – all students nationwide (not just low-income children), despite the fact that the scholarships are a third of the cost of the per pupil expenditures in conventional schools.

Both articles note not only how school choice benefits students, but how public schools improve as a result of competition, and that choice programs cost taxpayers less. With education spending higher than ever, school choice programs that have proven results and documented cost reductions should be a no-brainer.