Texas Voucher Program Increased Local Development

March 8, 2013

The Edgewood Independent School District (EISD) in San Antonio, Texas, started a voucher program in 1998 for elementary and high school students. The 10 year limited experiment that was started by the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation was privately funded by the Walton Family Fund and Covenant Foundation with a total of $54 million committed to the program, says John Merrifield, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Nathan Gray, an assistant professor of business and public policy at Young Harris College.

The program:

  • Limited duration of the voucher program of 10 years from 1998 to 2008.
  • A voucher amount of $2,000 for elementary school students attending a school outside the EISD boundaries.
  • A voucher amount of $4,700 for in district high school students.
  • Voucher usage peaked to 2,042 in 2004.
  • Edgewood Independent School District saw an increase in enrollment in 2002 of 3.5 percent, its first increase in enrollment in many years.
  • Test scores increased in the school district after the program started.

Economic boom:

  • In the 10 years of the voucher program, the total value of the property inside of the district rose by 86.4 percent.
  • Housing growth rose 7.4 percent from 1998 to 2008 for single-family housing.
  • Commercial property growth had an increase of 35.4 percent from 1998 to 2008.
  • The number of vacant lots decreased by 22.8 percent in 10 years.

Programs just like the Edgewood Voucher Program could both improve the local school system as well as improve the economic situation in that area. However, programs that target only low-income households or failed schools will not attract middle- and upper-class families. The results of the Edgewood Voucher Program show that school choice promotes economic development.

Source: John D. Merrifield and Nathan L. Gray "School Choice and Development: Evidence from the Edgewood Experiment," Cato Journal, Winter 2013.

 

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