NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 20, 2007

Voucher-participating private schools are less racially segregated than public schools, says Herb Walberg, a fellow with the Hoover Institution.

According to Jay Greene and Marcus Winters's evaluation of the first year of the Washington, D.C., voucher program:

  • Voucher students, 94 percent of whom are black, attended private schools that are more racially integrated than the District's public schools.
  • Neither public nor participating private schools in Washington, D.C., are racially integrated in proportion to the city's population, but the voucher program did help create more opportunities for integration than would have otherwise existed.

Research on Cleveland's voucher program similarly indicates greater racial integration of voucher users:

  • The Cleveland Scholarship Program began in the 1996-97 school year and provides up to $2,250 per student to attend one of 51 private schools.
  • Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of voucher students attended a racially integrated school, compared with only 5.2 percent of Cleveland public school students.
  • Some 61 percent of public school students in the metropolitan area attended schools that were racially segregated (where more than 90 percent of students were of the same background) compared to 50 percent of the students attending private schools with voucher students.

Religious schools were initially ineligible to participate in Milwaukee's voucher program. That prohibition was subsequently lifted, and an evaluation of the program showed that Milwaukee's voucher-accepting religious schools are now better integrated than the city's public schools:

  • In 1990-91, 341 students used vouchers to attend seven schools, and by 2001-02, 10,882 students used vouchers to attend 106 different schools.
  • While 54.4 percent of Milwaukee public school students attended racially isolated schools in 2001-02, only 41.8 percent attended similarly racially isolated private religious schools in the voucher program.
  • The program allowed some students who would otherwise have been racially isolated to attend less-segregated private religious schools.

Source: Herb Walberg, "Vouchers Could Desegregate Schools Better Than Buses," Heartland Institute, July 2007.


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