Given school choice, many students thrive

23 Aug

In University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate, moi said:

Perhaps, the best testimonial about parental choice comes from an editorial which describes the emotions of one parent. In the NY Daily News editorial, My Baby is Learning this was the description of the protest in support of charter schools:

Those words were spoken by a mother who had brought her child for the first day of classes at Harlem Success Academy  Charter School – and faced loud protesters with her youngster.

The demonstrators were part of a movement that portrays charter schools as an elitist threat to public education. They are not. They are publicly funded schools that admit neighborhood kids by lottery. Their students far outperform children in traditional public schools.

Charters have proliferated in Harlem, and thousands of parents have children on waiting lists – a trend that has driven activists, including state Sen. Bill Perkins, into shamefully charging that charters are creating a separate and “unequal” system.

But parents, the vast majority of them minorities, know better. Like the woman who confronted the protesters, they’re flocking to charters as a way out of failing local schools. And the bottom line for them is crystal-clear: Their babies are learning. 

The only way to overcome the great class divide is to give all children a first class education.

The only perfect choice is school choice.

The Center for Education Reform defines School Choice

The term “school choice” means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the school their child will attend. Traditionally, children are assigned to a public school according to where they live. People of means already have school choice, because they can afford to move to an area according to the schools available (i.e. where the quality of public schools is high), or they can choose to enroll their child in a private school. Parents without such means, until recently, generally had no choice of school, and had to send their child to the school assigned to them by the district, regardless of the school’s quality or appropriateness for their child.

School choice means better educational opportunity, because it uses the dynamics of consumer opportunity and provider competition to drive service quality. This principle is found anywhere you look, from cars to colleges and universities, but it’s largely absent in our public school system and the poor results are evident, especially in the centers of American culture – our cities. School choice programs foster parental involvement and high expectations by giving parents the option to educate their children as they see fit. It re-asserts the rights of the parent and the best interests of child over the convenience of the system, infuses accountability and quality into the system, and provides educational opportunity where none existed before.

Many school choice issues are also discussed in the school choice section.

School Choices has information about School Vouchers                                             http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/university-of-arkansas-study-finds-milwaukee-voucher-students-go-to-college-at-higher-rate/             

The Brookings Institute (Brookings) has released the report, The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City.  See also, Vouchers Help African American Students Go to College http://educationnext.org/vouchers-help-african-american-students-go-to-college/    and New Research on the Impact of Vouchers http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/314852/new-research-impact-vouchers-reihan-salam

Here is the press release from Brookings:

The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City

In the first study, using a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment, Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson, professor of government at Harvard University, examine the college-going behavior through 2011 of students who participated in a voucher experiment as elementary school students in the late 1990s. They find no overall impacts on college enrollment but do find large, statistically significant positive impacts on the college going of African-American students who participated in the study.

Their estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African Americans by 24 percent. The original data for the analysis come from an experimental evaluation of the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program, which in the spring of 1997 offered three-year scholarships worth up to a maximum of $1,400 annually to as many as 1,000 low-income families.  Chingos and Peterson obtained student information that allowed them to identify over 99 percent of the students who participated in the original experiment so that their college enrollment status could be ascertained by means of the college enrollment database maintained by the National Student Clearinghouse for institutions of higher education that serve 96 percent of all students in the United States.

In addition to finding impacts on overall college-going for African Americans, the authors report significant increases in full-time college attendance, enrollment in private four-year colleges, and enrollment in selective four-year colleges for this group of students.

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Andrew Rotherham has an excellent article in Time, The 5 Biggest Myths About School Vouchers

1. Vouchers skim the best students from public schools. Although many voucher proponents want universal vouchers, today, the programs are targeted to specific populations, for instance low-income students or students with disabilities. So while vouchers don’t generally serve the absolute poorest of the poor, they do not skim off the most affluent or easiest-to-educate students either….

2. Students who receive vouchers do better academically than their public school peers. That depends on the measure. Overall the test scores of students who use vouchers are largely indistinguishable from students who stay behind in public schools. On the other hand, parent satisfaction is generally greater among parents whose children received vouchers. And while it’s too soon to tell for sure, there is some evidence that other outcomes, for instance graduation rates, may be better for students who receive vouchers. ….

3. Vouchers drain money from the public schools. It seems obvious that taking money from the public schools and sending it to private schools would leave public schools with less money. But in the through the looking glass world of school finance, things rarely are what they seem. In Milwaukee for instance, Robert Costrell of the School Choice Demonstration Project analyzed the financial outcomes of the voucher program and found that it is saving money in Wisconsin. And, in Washington, D.C. there was an infusion of federal funds into the city’s public schools in exchange for the passage of the voucher program.

4. Vouchers make all schools get better because they have to compete for students. It seems logical to assume that forcing schools to vie for students will improve quality. But schools are not economic entities like a store and respond differently to competition — for instance by going to court or to lobby state legislators. There have been vouchers for years in Cleveland and Milwaukee yet the schools there are still generally poor quality. In Washington almost a third of the city’s students were using various choice options (mostly charter schools) before the public schools began to make real changes. But, we’re still learning. Researchers at the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research have found evidence that competition improved schools in Florida.

5. Private, parochial, or even public charter schools are better than regular public schools. Parents should worry a lot less about the legal status of a particular school than whether it’s the right school for their child. A good fit depends on a host of factors including a strong academic program, successful outcomes, a clear curriculum, areas of emphasis like arts or technology, and even lifestyle factors such as limiting time spent in transit or a year-round schedule. Just because a school is private doesn’t mean it is better overall or better for your child and even in places where the public schools are struggling overall there are often hidden gems. ….

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

Related:

Are tax credits disguised vouchers?                                                                     http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/are-tax-credits-disguised-vouchers/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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2 Responses to “Given school choice, many students thrive”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What is the Indiana voucher program? « drwilda - August 26, 2012

    [...] “School Choice” ignites passions. People really go ballistic when vouchers are discussed. Moi wrote about vouchers in Given school choice, many students thrive http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/given-school-choice-many-students-thrive/ [...]

  2. Review of the Brookings study on vouchers by National Education Policy Center « drwilda - September 14, 2012

    [...] http://drwilda.com/2012/08/23/given-school-choice-many-students-thrive/ [...]

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