Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The D.C. voucher program and it critics

This WaPo editorial takes up for the D.C. voucher program against Democratic critics, who are quick to seize on data from this DoE report (executive summary here; press release here).

To be sure, the report shows that, after seven months in their new schools, children taking advantage of the vouchers didn’t perform significantly better on tests than did those in a control group (voucher lottery losers). These results are in line with other studies that show little effect in the first year of a voucher program.

But the report notes that parents are significantly more satisfied with the new schools their childrent are attending, which I guess doesn’t matter to Democratic critics. With respect to education, the Democrats are going to have to decide whether they’re the party of the unions or the party of the parents. So far, they’ve sided with the unions.

One last point: perhaps one additional reason that differences are small is that the populations being compared are of students whose parents sought vouchers. What both groups have in common is parental concern and involvement. (Indeed, some children who didn’t receive vouchers ended up in private schools anyway.) To the degree that parental involvement affects results (and how can it not?), wouldn’t it be likely that the differences between the two groups would be less than between students whose parents were so concerned that they sought opportunities for their children and a random sample of public school students, whose parents may or may not be actively involved in their education?

Discussions - 2 Comments

Vouchers are just a bad idea. Take government money, soon government will mandate mediocrity for your institution. The perfect example is "certification," where one must have a proletarian degree in "education" to teach at a public school. Top-tier prep schools, by and large, refuse to hire people with degrees in "education," well, because, to be blunt, they aren't usually too bright. Under a voucher system, it is very conceivable that private schools would one day have to engage in the "certification" process and hire people with mediocre degrees. Many headmasters at top-tier schools have come out against vouchers for this very reason.

Most of the voucher programs with which I'm familiar don't require schools to participate. That's true of federal college student aid as well; just ask the folks at Hillsdale and Grove City.

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