In his recent blog post, AJC columnist Jay Bookman claims that Senator Rogers’ argument in support of more school choice would be more convincing if it were based on “the facts” from existing voucher programs in the US and other countries, but he is the one who fails to base his arguments on evidence. Mr. Bookman does not cite a single study in his post to back up his claims, despite how easy it is to link to research in a blog post.
A little research shows the real facts behind voucher programs. The Milwaukee program referenced by Mr. Bookman actually leads to students in BOTH the public and private schools faring better academically when they have more options from the voucher program. Additionally, the Washington D.C. voucher program significantly improved students’ chances of graduating from high school, and a Florida study found that competition improves the academic performance of public schools. These and other studies make it hard to claim that there is “no evidence that they have produced better educational outcomes.”
And when it comes to schools reducing segregation and having students attend schools with “others unlike themselves,” private schools participating in Cleveland and Milwaukee’s school voucher programs are much less segregated than their public school counterparts, whose enrollment is often based on racially and economically segregated neighborhoods.
Even with all of these benefits, a universal voucher program would not end public schools. In the nearly 20 years since Sweden began its universal voucher program, 85 percent of students in that country still attend public school.
So who needs to be more convincing – a Senator with a modest school choice proposal based on the success of other programs or a blogger who throws out anti-choice rhetoric without citing a single study to back up his claims?