DON'T WRITE VOUCHERS OFF
February 12, 2008
Vouchers are more successful than ever. A recent referendum loss in Utah should be weighed against the many victories vouchers have achieved across the nation, says Robert C. Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.
- Since 2000, vouchers have had their greatest period of legislative success; of the 21 school choice programs that exist, 12 were enacted in the past eight years, and the fastest growth has been in the past three years.
- Moreover, 10 existing programs have been expanded in the same three years; vouchers have never been more successful in state legislatures than right now.
Despite this success, some wonder whether there are enough good private schools for children to attend if vouchers were widespread. Thankfully, we can answer the questions with evidence, says Enlow:
- Almost 190,000 students attend private schools using vouchers or tax-credit scholarships.
- Private schools have expanded to make room for these students, many of whom would not be in private schools without the use of public funds.
- In 1990, only 7 private schools participated in the Milwaukee voucher program; today, more than 120 schools participate, and at least a quarter of these are brand new.
As to the quality argument, most high quality research finds that private schools produce better academic achievement. We also know that vouchers increase student achievement. Ten studies of voucher programs found that students using vouchers to attend private schools outperformed their public school peers on standardized tests. The results in eight of the studies reached a high degree of statistical certainty, says Enlow.
Source: Robert C. Enlow, "Opposing view: Don't write them off," USA Today, February 12, 2008.
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