Vouchers Improve Schools
Special Report - February 26, 2009
School voucher programs improve academic achievement in public schools, according to a new study by Greg Forster, Ph.D., of the Freidman Foundation for Education Choice. The study, “A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on How Vouchers Affect Public Schools,” analyzed “all available empirical studies on how vouchers affect academic performance in public schools.” It found that 16 of 17 empirical studies show that vouchers actually improve public schools, and no study has ever found that vouchers harm public schools. The study cited previous research in states, such as Wisconsin, that compared schools where a majority of students were eligible for vouchers to those where fewer students were eligible, and found that schools that were more exposed to vouchers reported higher gains in math, science and language scores.
The study argues that, “choice and competition provided by vouchers improve public schools.” It notes that when a student leaves a public school to attend a private school using a voucher, not all of the money goes with that student. This means that the public school is left with more money to serve other children at the school. In addition, the study notes that voucher programs “give parents a meaningful way to hold schools accountable for their performance.” According to the Friedman Foundation, 160,000 students in America currently attend one of the 24 school choice programs in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
“Contrary to the widespread claim that vouchers hurt public schools, the empirical evidence concludes that in fact, vouchers improve public schools," Dr. Forster said in a press release. "Some say vouchers can't be improving public schools because, look, there are still lots of problems in Milwaukee, … But the empirical evidence consistently shows vouchers are having a positive impact. Just because things aren't perfect yet doesn't mean that nothing's helping."
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