Vouchers a Proven Solution


Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer featured a letter to the editor I wrote on school choice. Here is my full submission:

I was disappointed to see the Inquirer’s school voucher editorial repeat verbatim the myths propagated by education special interest groups with little effort to verify the facts.

For starters, the editorial board claims voucher programs have had “mixed results.” Yet none of the gold standard studies shows voucher students doing worse than those without. The only thing disputed is how great the student improvement is. Furthermore, nearly every study shows that public schools also improve following vouchers – through competition, smaller classes, and higher spending per student – and none shows students “left behind.”

The editorial selectively cites one “survey” paid for by the taxpayer-funded School Boards Association to claim residents oppose vouchers, when independent polls of voters done by professional pollsters contradict this claim.

The editorial goes on to make allegations that private schools will admit only the top performing students with a voucher. But the experience of other states with voucher programs and Pennsylvania’s own Educational Improvement Tax Credit program prove the opposite: Private schools educated thousands of low-income students who were failing in public schools.

Moreover, the “costs” of the voucher program represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of public school funding, and actually provide a savings for districts. The maximum voucher for Philadelphia students would be around $6,800, compared with school district funding of more than $13,200 per student. The difference, almost $7,000, would go back to the district for children they no longer have to educate.

Public school spending doubled over the past 15 years, from $13 to $26 billion, while academic achievement has stagnated and students remain trapped in failing schools. More time and more money won’t fix public education, but vouchers are a solution proven.