Tag Archives: Voucher

University of Arkansas study: The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?

10 Mar

Moi has posted quite a bit about vouchers. Moi discussed vouchers as one element of school choice in Given school choice, many students thrive:

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 https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/university-of-arkansas-study-finds-milwaukee-voucher-students-go-to-college-at-higher-rate/

The Brookings Institute (Brookings) 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

https://drwilda.com/2012/08/23/given-school-choice-many-students-thrive/

The University of Arkansas released How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students?

Posted by UArk Dept. of Ed. Reform – February 19, 2016 – LSP-Y2, SCDP, SCDP and a policy paper which examined the Milwaukee voucher program was part of the research project.

Ameila Hamilton wrote in A new paper looks at school vouchers and lower crime rates:

School choice is frequently hailed as a way to change the trajectories of lives in ways that will resonate for generations. While this is certainly true in terms of the educational achievement that leads to college, employment and the social mobility those bring, a new study is taking a look at how school choice also reduces crime.

In the past, families with the financial means to pay for private school have always had school choice. School vouchers are one way to expand choice to those without such advantages, by providing tuition assistance to students who could otherwise not afford it.

Wisconsin has one such program and The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?, a paper released Tuesday by the University of Arkansas, examines crime rates in Milwaukee among students in voucher programs compared to students in traditional public schools. The study was conducted by Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, professor and 21st Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas.

It found that, not only do crime rates decline among students who participate in voucher programs, they continue to decline the longer a student is enrolled. “We conclude,” the paper says, “that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistently attending a private school through a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity, especially for males.”

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) is the longest-running school choice program in the country, giving researchers the most data possible….                                                                http://watchdog.org/259034/a-new-paper-looks-at-school-vouchers-and-lower-crime-rates/

See, School Voucher Program Students Commit Fewer Crimes, Study Suggests, http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/school-voucher-program-students-commit-fewer-crimes-study-suggests/#sthash.yvn0hXeQ.dpuf

Citation:

The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?
Source: Corey DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf,EDRE Working Paper No. 2016-01, January 6, 2016

Abstract:
In this article we examine crime rates for students in Milwaukee’s citywide voucher program and a comparable group of public school students. Using unique data collected as part of a state-mandated evaluation of the program, we consider criminal activity by students initially exposed to voucher schools and those in public schools at the same time. We also consider criminal activity by students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade compared to those who were in public schools at the same time. We show that the mere exposure to private schooling through a voucher is associated with lower rates of criminal activity but the relationship is not robust to different analytic samples or measures of crime. We find a more consistent statistically significant negative relationship between students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade and criminal activity (meaning persistent voucher students commit fewer crimes). These results are apparent when controlling for student demographics, test scores, and parental characteristics. We conclude that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistence in a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity.

– See more at: http://www.afscmeinfocenter.org/privatizationupdate/2016/01/organizational-failure-in-the-hollow-state-lessons-from-the-milwaukee-voucher-experience.htm#.VuJd7zEi1dg

Here is the press release from the University of Arkansas:

Study Finds Connection Between School Voucher Use, Lower Crime Rates

March 08, 2016

An evaluation by University of Arkansas researchers of a Milwaukee school voucher program found that students who used the vouchers to attend a private high school were less likely to commit crimes than comparable students who attended Milwaukee public schools.

Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, who holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice, describe the results of the analysis in their paper titled “The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?” They presented the paper in January at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The School Choice Demonstration Project based at the U of A and directed by Wolf has conducted several previous studies of the Milwaukee program, looking at student achievement, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, promotion of civic values and parental satisfaction and views of safety.

Schools also can be thought of as social institutions that aim to improve the non-cognitive skills of students, according to the paper, and the combination of academic achievement and non-cognitive advancement of students can lead to better life outcomes as measured by lifetime earnings, employment and citizenship. In the current study, citizenship of a given student was evaluated by looking at criminal activity as adults.

DeAngelis and Wolf used data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to conduct the first analysis of the effect of a private school choice program on the criminal behavior of young adults. Milwaukee’s is the first urban publicly funded tuition voucher system, launched in 1990, and currently enrolls more than 27,000 students in more than 110 private schools.

The researchers matched students using the voucher with students in public schools using data on grade, neighborhood, race, gender, English language learner status, and math and reading tests. They also controlled for family characteristics such as income, family composition and parental education. They used the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access system to search for cases involving former students who had been in the program during a longitudinal study from 2006 to 2011 and were 22 to 25 years old during the criminal database search.

The results indicated that using a voucher to attend private school reduces the likelihood of a student committing a misdemeanor as a young adult by 5 to 7 percentage points, or committing a felony by 3 percentage points, and of being accused of any crime by 5 to 12 percentage points. The effects of the voucher program on reducing crime rates are especially clear and large for men, who commit more crimes than do women.

The complete study can be found on the School Choice Demonstration Project website.

  • Contacts

  • Heidi Stambuck, director of communications College of Education and Health Professions 479-575-3138, stambuck@uark.edu

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. Moi does not have the dread of a well-defined voucher program targeted at at-risk children. The tax credit program is entirely a horse of a different color and should be discouraged.

Related:

What is the Indiana voucher program?                                                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/08/26/what-is-the-indiana-voucher-program/

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

University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate   https://drwilda.com/2012/03/05/university-of-arkansas-study-finds-milwaukee-voucher-students-go-to-college-at-higher-rate/

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What is the Indiana voucher program?

26 Aug

School choice” which means according to the Education Breakthrough Network:

School Choice…What is it?

Well, not to be overly simplistic,  SCHOOL CHOICE is the act of choosing a school that meets the needs of your child.

Traditionally, families have been assigned to schools based on where they live. In fact, families with sufficient resources choose the neighborhoods they live in, in order to be assigned to a good school. That is actually a pretty active choice.

But school choice means actively choosing a school versus being assigned to one. And it doesn’t matter what kind of choice that is, they can include private schools, public charter schools, online schools, home schools, special needs schools or even preschools.

School choice advocates believe in the rights of parents to choose a school that meets their child’s needs, and in the rights of teachers and all educators to create, manage, and/or choose to be employed in those schools.

The Education Breakthrough Network exists to explain and advance effective school choice…from its simplest definition here to our very detailed database here.

Find out more about us.

Learn more about School Choice and how it is defined by the daily activities of those that do it! Read how these organizations support and define School Choice:

The Foundation For Educational Choice
The Center for Education Reform
The Heritage Foundation
The Alliance for School Choice

http://www.edbreakthrough.org/SCinfo.php

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

Moi thinks the Indiana experience will be useful and will provide useful information about what works in education. Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education:

Moi writes this blog around a set of principles which are:

All children have a right to a good basic education.

  1. Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved.

  2. Society should support and foster strong families.

  3. Society should promote the idea that parents are responsible for parenting their children and people who are not prepared to accept that responsibility should not be parenting children.

  4. The sexualization of the culture has had devastating effects on children, particularly young women. For many there has been the lure of the “booty call” rather than focusing on genuine achievement.

    Education is a life long pursuit

Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.

The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child:

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.

Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.

Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.

Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.

Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.

Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.

Encouraging parental and community involvement. http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/WholeChildBackgrounder.pdf

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach.https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/ The Indiana voucher program is an attempt to give parents the tools to meet the needs of their child.

Mary McConnell of the Deseret News has posted a series of articles about education reform in Indiana. Her latest article is Indiana education voucher experiment: year two begins:

Since a big share of the voucher money is going to religious schools that don’t make a profit, this invocation of “private enterprise” is a little misleading. But I still find it curious that “private enterprise” is viewed as a pejorative. Private enterprise, after all, has brought us stunningly better and often less expensive products, and proved much more responsive to consumer demand.

Ah, consumer demand. That’s what really intrigues me about the article. Schools – public schools AND private schools hoping to attract voucher students – find that they need to reach out to their consumers, parents, and make a case that they’re providing an excellent education for their children.

Maybe TV ads and billboards will do the trick; as a parent and a teacher who has taught in Catholic schools that need to persuade parents of their value, I would bet on stronger results, better discipline, and a school culture that welcomes and fosters parent involvement. Can public schools offer that? Absolutely. Will it hurt for them to have to prove it to parents? Voucher opponents will say yes, but I’m betting that the biggest beneficiaries of competition will turn out to be public schools.

This posting could get very, very long, so let me instead direct readers to some interesting recent articles.

A Harvard study of New York City’s private voucher program – published this past Thursday – indicates that vouchers significantly improved the odds that African American students would attend college. This is an especially valuable study because it included a scientific control group (students who applied for but did not receive the vouchers, thereby holding constant for “involved parents”) and employed long-term data (1997-2011). Here’s a Wall Street Journal op-ed reporting the data:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444184704577585582150808386.html?mod=djemITP_h

And here’s a link to the study itself:

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/Impacts_of_School_Vouchers_FINAL.pdf

The American Enterprise Institute published a short piece responding to the AP article; it makes the argument for competition.

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/08/schools-respond-to-competition/

Here’s an article from last week’s Economist – which if anything proves that Indiana’s experiment is world news:

http://www.economist.com/node/21560570

And finally, a useful warning note for voucher supporters. Many private schools in Indiana saw their test scores drop as they admitted voucher students. No huge surprise – if anything, it suggests that the private schools were, in fact, achieving higher educational standards (and probably educating a different demographic, as well.)

http://www.fortwayne.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120723/NEWS/320111062/1039/EDUCATION

Utah voters decided that the state should not take this path, at least for now. But it will be interesting to see what happens in Indiana . . . and Louisiana. More on Louisiana next week.   http://educatingourselves.blogs.deseretnews.com/2012/08/25/indiana-education-voucher-experiment-year-two-begins/

Here is information from the Indiana Department of Education:

Choice Scholarships

Indiana is committed to providing all children access to quality educational opportunities, no matter where they live or how much money is in the family bank account. House Enrolled Act 1003 will play a key role in helping the Hoosier state accomplish this goal.Indiana’s new voucher program (authorized under IC 20-51-1 and IC 20-51-4) gives Hoosier families the opportunity to send their children to a school that best meets their learning needs. A voucher, or “Choice Scholarship,” is a state payment that qualifying families can use to offset tuition costs at participating schools. Students qualify based on total household income and the amount of the scholarship corresponds with the public school corporation in which the student lives.This exciting new program is up and running for the 2011-2012 school year. Schools and parents will work together to submit applications and enroll students. Participating schools and parents should explore the boxes below for more information.

Interested Parents General Info
How To Apply Estimated Scholarship Amounts
FAQ for Parents Household Income Limits
Preguntas Frequentes Padres Income Verification Rules
Approved Choice Schools Indiana School Scholarship Tax Credit
Interested Schools
Getting Started Application to Become an Eligible School
FAQ for Schools Program Deadlines
School Implementation
Data Reporting Data Layout for Choice Scholarship Input
Income Verification Visual Assessment Information
Reading Plan Emergency Rule
Recognized National and Regional Accreditation Agencies Student Record

Deduction for Private & Homeschool

Deduction Form

http://www.doe.in.gov/improvement/school-choice/choice-scholarships

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.   

What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   

The Indiana voucher program is a tool which allows parents the choice of what is best for their child.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate

5 Mar

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 2 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

Issues and Arguments

     School vouchers, also known as scholarships, redirect the flow of education funding, channeling it directly to individual families rather than to school districts. This allows families to select the public or private schools of their choice and have all or part of the tuition paid. Scholarships are advocated on the grounds that parental choice and competition between public and private schools will improve education for all children. Vouchers can be funded and administered by the government, by private organizations, or by some combination of both.
This page brings together some of the most important sources of evidence on the outcomes of existing scholarship programs. It includes studies of both privately- and publicly-funded programs, as well as the results of a key court case. (A more comprehensive discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of both private and government-funded scholarships can be found in the book
Market Education: The Unknown History.)

     Government-run voucher programs are very controversial, and they have been criticized from two very different angles. The first body of criticism alleges that competitive markets are not well suited to the field of education, and that any school reform based on privatization, competition, and parental choice is doomed to failure. A summary of these arguments, with responses, can be found by clicking here.
The second body of criticism states that government-funded scholarships would not create a genuinely free educational market, but instead would perpetuate dependence on government funding and regulation to the continued detriment of families. These arguments, along with responses are described here.

Charter schools and vouchers are possible options in the theory of “school choice.”

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. ….

Milwaukee Public Schools have been a laboratory for school vouchers. The demographics at the time the voucher program started were:

58.4% African American

20% Hispanic

13.3% White0.8% Native American

4.5% Asian

0.8% Native American05):

Special Education 16.1%

English Language Learners 4.8%

Low Income 67.1%EMOANCE & OTHER RATES

Attendance rate* = 88.3% Suspension rate* = 25.5%

Graduation rate* = 64% (est.)

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lc/committees/study/2006/SSAF/files/DistrictFactSheet_07_2006.pdf

The University of Arkansas has released a study of the Milwaukee voucher program.

Here is the press release from the University of Arkansas:

School Voucher Use Increased College Attendance, Research Findings Show

Arkansas-led team completes five-year Milwaukee evaluation

Monday, February 27, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A school voucher program in Milwaukee increased the chances of students graduating from high school and going on to college, according to the School Choice Demonstration Project based at the University of Arkansas.

Researchers will wrap up five years of evaluations of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program on Monday, Feb. 27, with two panel presentations and discussion of the demonstration project’s findings in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was the first school voucher program of its kind when it started in 1990. In 2006, Wisconsin policymakers mandated that the School Choice Demonstration Project lead a five-year evaluation of the Milwaukee program.

“Our clearest positive finding is that the Choice Program boosts the rates at which students graduate from high school, enroll in a four-year college, and persist in college,” said John Witte, professor of political science and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Since educational attainment is linked to positive life outcomes such as higher lifetime earnings and lower rates of incarceration, this is a very encouraging result of the program.”

Witte worked on the evaluations with Patrick Wolf, holder of the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas and director of the School Choice Demonstration Project, and a team of researchers. The evaluations covered numerous aspects of the program, including academic achievement, parental satisfaction and cost-savings.

“Our final set of reports on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program represent the last word on the first private school choice program targeted to low-income inner-city students in the U.S. – a pioneering program that operated for 22 years and paved the way for 25 voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs that have come in its wake,” Wolf stated in the summary of final reports. “Our findings include several ‘no significant difference’ results but also some evidence that participation in MPCP or enrollment in an independent public charter school has produced better student outcomes than those experienced by similar students in Milwaukee Public schools.”

Release of the demonstration project’s final report and accompanying discussion will take place between 8 and 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee. The reports may also be accessed online at the School Choice Demonstration Project website. In addition to researchers’ reports, today’s event will include comments from several leading figures in Wisconsin education, including Bob Peterson of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, Brother Bob Smith of Messmer Schools, Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin, and Mark Blitz of the University of Wisconsin -Madison.

The evaluation concluded that, when similar students in the voucher program and in Milwaukee Public Schools were compared, the achievement growth of students in the voucher program was higher in reading but similar in math. When a snapshot of students in the voucher program who took the state accountability test was compared to a snapshot of the performance of Milwaukee Public School students with similar income disadvantages, the students in the voucher program performed at higher levels in the upper grades in reading and science but at lower levels in math at all grade levels examined and in reading and science in fourth grade.

The researchers also were able to estimate that 7.5 to 14.6 percent of students in the voucher program have a disability. Even the low end of that range is more than four times higher than the disability rate previously reported by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction based merely on the number of voucher students who received special accommodations while testing.

Contacts:

Patrick Wolf, Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice
College of Education and Health Professions
479-445-9821, pwolf@uark.edu

John F. Witte, professor of political science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
608-445-5026, witte@lafollette.wisc.edu

Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, stambuck@uark.edu

http://newswire.uark.edu/article.aspx?id=17806

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.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

School choice: Given a choice, parents vote with their feet

15 Dec

Most parents want the best for their children and will make many sacrifices to give their children a good life. In the movie Waiting for Superman, a remarkable group of parents was trying to overcome the odds stacked against their children in failing public schools. David Miller Sadker, PhD,  Karen R. Zittleman, PhD in  Teachers, Schools, and Society  list the characteristics of a strong school. Strong schools must be found in all areas. At present, that is not true.  It is particularly important where student populations face challenges. Strong principals, effective teachers and parental involvement are key to strong schools. Charmaine Loever describes  What Makes A Principal Effective? It really doesn’t matter the income level or the color of the parent, most want the best for their child.

Perhaps, the best testimonial about this school comes from an editorial which describes the emotions of one parent. The NY Daily News editorial, My Baby Is Learning  describes a protest against charter schools:

Those words were spoken by a mother who had brought her child for the first day of classes at Harlem Success Academy 2 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. AP reports in the article, More Students Leaving Failing Schools which was printed in the Seattle Times that given the choice, many parents choose to take their kids out of failing schools. Well, duh.

There is no one magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works for a given population of children.  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. ….

School Choices has information about School Vouchers

Education News is reporting in the article, First Year Success for Indiana Voucher Program

A new school voucher system, whereby students can have up to 90 percent of the cost of tuition paid for them, has aided almost 4,000 Indiana students who have been attending private schools in the last year, writes John Martin at the Courier Press.

The program’s first-year cap was 7,500, and although this was not reached, advocates of the taxpayer-funded scheme are said to be pleased with the participation level.

“We had only a short window to implement the program,” said School Choice Indiana Executive Director Lindsey Brown.

“We were never concerned we were going to hit the cap.”

“Other programs have had months to get started, get implemented, we did this in 6 to 8 weeks,” added Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference.

The majority of voucher recipients are from metropolitan areas, while 15 percent from rural areas. 53 percent of voucher recipients are minorities. School Choice Indiana claims 85 percent of students who receive vouchers also qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch.

“It wasn’t that the public schools were bad, but they wanted a school that shared their values or met their needs in a certain way,” said Paul Bair, director of Evansville Christian School, which accepts vouchers.

Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporations officials say that they have lost some students to vouchers this year but also have accepted some transfer students from nonpublic schools.

Annabel Ortiz-Lopez is a parent of two children who are receiving vouchers to attend their schools. She said she is grateful for an opportunity she otherwise would not have had.

“We liked where we were before in public school, but ECS expects more out of the kids,” said Ortiz-Lopez.

“(My kids) are excelling.”

As the voucher law matures into its second year, as many as 15,000 will be awarded. It is thought that there will be no caps on the limits after that.

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/first-year-success-for-indiana-voucher-program/

The next great civil rights struggle will be education equity for low-income and poor children.  ALL options for educating children must be on the table.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©