NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private Competitors Benefit Public Schools

March 18, 1999

When viable private school alternatives exist, competition between public and private schools benefits public school teachers and students, say researchers, resulting in higher salaries for public school teachers and higher public school student test scores.

Ohio University economists Richard Vedder and Joshua Hall analyzed data on over 600 Ohio school districts. Ohio tends to be right in the middle of states in rankings on most educational variables including teacher salaries, suggesting it is rather typical of all states.

Among their findings:

  • Comparing a single public school district with no private schools to a county with 12 public school districts and 20 percent of the students in private schools, Vedder and Hall found competition between private and public schools can increase salaries by more than 5 percent.
  • Their conclusion confirms the findings of Harvard University's Caroline Hoxby regarding competition and teachers' salaries at the national level.
  • Vedder and Hall also found that increasing the percentage of private school students in a school district by 25 percent would raise the percentage of Ohio public school students passing the 4th grade proficiency test by almost 6 percent.
  • And it would raise scores on the 9th grade proficiency exam by 4.1 percent and on the 12th grade exam by 5.5 percent.

Interestingly, they found the effect was the greatest in low spending school districts -- whereas they found that increasing spending per student in these same districts would have no significant effect.

Source: "Private School Competition Raises Salaries of Public School Teachers," Policy Note, March 1999, and "Private School Competition Improves Public School Performance," Policy Note, December 1998, both Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, 131 N. Ludlow Street, Suite 317, Dayton, Ohio 45402, (937) 224-8352.


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