NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

International Survey Finds Public Teachers Fare Well With Vouchers

November 5, 1997

The American Federation of Teachers labeled advocates of school vouchers "barbarians" and the National Education Association president said they were "pushers." Likewise, the Clinton administration's education secretary, Richard Riley, recently said school vouchers would "balkanize" public education and undermine transmission of civic values.

However, an Alexis de Tocqueville Institution study of more than a dozen countries shows public education and teacher unions fare well with school vouchers:

  • Spending on public education does not fall substantially once a voucher system is introduced -- remaining above 80 percent of total spending on education in countries with strong voucher systems, including France, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Russia and Sweden.
  • Teachers unions in other countries are much more positive toward voucher systems than in the U.S.
  • Of the 48 foreign teacher unions that answered the survey, only 23 percent oppose school vouchers, 35 percent strongly support them and 42 percent were neutral.

The survey also found teacher pay is more equal in countries with voucher systems; but teacher union dues are generally lower. Analysts believe the reason is multiple unions usually operate in countries with vouchers, creating competition for members. In the U.S. only two unions dominate the nation's education system.

In addition, schools tend to be more competitive and streamlined in countries with vouchers. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, other countries spend less on school administration than the U.S. -- ranging from 15 percent in Japan to 18 percent in Australia, compared to 24.6 percent in the U.S.

Sources: Alveda King (Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, King for America) School Choice from Around the World," Washington Times, November 5, 1997, and Robert W. Kasten and Gregory Fossedal, "Teacher Unions and School Choice in Countries That Have Both," Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, 1611 North Kent Street, Suite 901, Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 351-4969.


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