NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 8, 2006

Private schools participating in Cleveland and Milwaukee's school voucher programs are much less segregated than public schools counterparts, contrary to claims that school vouchers lead to greater segregation, according to two studies released by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation and the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

Using a segregation index, which compares the racial composition of schools to the racial composition of school-age children in a greater metropolitan area, researchers found:

  • Private schools participating in Cleveland's voucher program are 18 points less segregated than Cleveland public schools on the segregation index.
  • In Milwaukee, voucher program are 13 points less segregated than Milwaukee public schools on the segregation index.
  • To put the segregation index into perspective, using the Cleveland example, in a metro area whose school-age population was 50 percent white, a school that was 60 percent white and a school that was 78 percent white would differ by 18 points on the segregation index.

"The widespread claims that private schools have high segregation levels and vouchers will lead to greater segregation are empirically unsupportable," says the study's author, Greg Forster, a senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation. "In these two cities voucher students attend schools that are less segregated than the public schools.  School vouchers have the potential to break down neighborhood racial barriers in a way public schools can't match," added Forster.

"The plain truth is that the scare tactics of school choice opponents don't hold up," added Robert Enlow, Executive Director of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, "particularly in light of the evidence in Cleveland and Milwaukee that strongly suggests school choice may tear down the walls of segregation."

Source: Greg Forster, "New studies find private schools in voucher programs less segregated than public schools," Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, August 31, 2006.


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