School Choice Doesn't Hurt Public Schools
December 18, 2001
A new book published by the National Center for Policy Analysis dispels a number of myths about school choice. Among them is the myth that tax-funded school voucher programs weaken or destroy the public schools. The authors, Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Education at Marquette University, and Kaleem Caire, President and CEO of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, refute the argument in the following way:
- In Milwaukee, where a school choice program has been in place for some time, public schools became more innovative and independent in response to the choice program.
- A study by Harvard University economist Caroline Hoxby showed Milwaukee public schools "have a strong, positive response to competition from vouchers."
- Between 1997-1998 and 1999-2000, when the choice program grew rapidly, the test scores of fourth-grade public schools students rose substantially.
- In 1997-1998, fewer than half of fourth graders were proficient in reading, math, science and social studies, but by 2000 a majority were proficient in all four categories.
- In Milwaukee, Cleveland and Pensacola, Florida, per pupil financial support for most voucher students is substantially less than in public schools.
- Public education budgets in all three cities increased significantly.
- In Milwaukee, for example, public school enrollment grew eight percent, and real spending grew 29 percent.
- In Cleveland, per pupil costs in public schools were more than three times that of the voucher program, and the program did not take state financial support from the public schools.
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