PSBA’s Web of Lies on School Vouchers

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), in a desperate attempt to preserve the status quo in education, has launched a new portal, VoucherWatch.

Of the many pieces of misinformation they offer is this quote:

“Studies conducted in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.* have not found that students utilizing vouchers make any better progress in private or parochial schools than they did while in public school.”

The * refers to studies cited, yet these studies say nothing of the sort.

One study doesn’t deal with vouchers at all, but public vs. private schools, and argues that student/family background are more reflective of an individual students performance than the school—but still concludes that Catholic schools outperform public schools. (Only one of the four studies PSBA cited found public schools performed better than private schools, but did not look at vouchers.) Another study cited looks only at the baseline year of the Milwaukee program (i.e., before students begin their schooling in a voucher program), but still finds benefits for taxpayers.

And amazingly, one study they cite, by Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas notes:

The high-quality studies on school voucher programs generally reach positive conclusions about vouchers. The many evaluations of targeted school voucher initiatives confirm that these programs serve highly disadvantaged populations of students. Of the ten separate analyses of data from “gold standard” experimental studies of voucher programs, nine conclude that some or all of the participants benefited academically from using a voucher to attend a private school. The evidence to date suggests that school voucher programs benefit many of the disadvantaged students and parents that they serve.

Over the last two decades, 18 out of 19 studies of vouchers programs showed public schools performance improved with under vouchers, and the other showing no difference.  No study has ever shown a harmful effect on either voucher students or on public schools.

Either the PSBA did not read the studies, or they are purposefully being dishonest, and hoping their readers would not look to the citations.