As the evidence about the benefits of school choice accumulates, opponents start inventing new arguments.
For years, opponents of school choice have argued that voucher programs would drain taxpayer resources from public education. But it turns out they got things backwards. A new report by Dr. Susan Aud finds that school choice programs have led to substantial savings for public schools and steady increases in per-student spending.
Dr. Aud found that eleven school voucher programs in eight states saved taxpayers $444 million from 1990 to 2006-$22 million for state budgets and $422 million for local school districts. According to Dr. Aud, "Instructional spending has consistently gone up in all affected public school districts and states." Contrary to rhetoric, school choice programs actually boost resources for kids who remain in public schools.
Another argument of school choice opponents is that public schools are better at teaching citizenship and civic education. In a meta-analysis of twenty-one quantitative studies, Professor Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas found that schools of choice generally equal or surpass traditional public schools in the teaching of seven fundamental civic values: political tolerance, voluntarism, political knowledge, political participation, social capital, civic skills, and patriotism.
These studies add to a growing body of academic research showing the benefits of choice in education. The question is how long it will take for policymakers to notice.
Dan Lips is an education analyst at the Heritage Foundation and a senior fellow with the Goldwater Institute.
-Heritage Foundation: New Research Shows Additional Benefits of School Choice
-Friedman Foundation: School Choice by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006
-Education Next: Civics Exam