The Wall Street Journal reported on a study about school voucher programs in Indiana and Louisiana, which concluded some positive things about choice.
Teachers unions and liberals in general notoriously oppose giving choice to low-income parents with children stuck in failing government schools. For example, the NAACP joined a lawsuit filed by a teachers union in Florida against the state’s voucher program. The organization also passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools.
According to the Journal, blacks account for almost 90 percent of the students attending private or religious schools under a voucher program in Louisiana. Although some of the children had setbacks at first, their performances improved over three years. An excerpt (emphases added):
Messrs. Mills and Wolf expanded their study to include performance after three years, and when they did the results flipped. Their new study shows that, by the end of the third year, the differences between voucher students and those in public schools had been erased.
Meanwhile, researchers Mark Berends and R. Joseph Waddington focused on Indiana’s statewide voucher program that now serves more than 34,000 students. The study found that students using vouchers had declines in math and English for the first two years after leaving public school. But the longer these voucher kids stuck around in their new schools, the better they did—surpassing their public school peers in English after four years.
These studies are important in rebutting what has been an especially aggressive campaign this year against vouchers by unions and liberal journalists. With President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos supporting school choice including vouchers, the campaign is on to discredit them with or without persuasive evidence.
Choice is freedom. Liberals have no problem calling for tax-funded abortions or “transition” surgery, but they oppose choice when it comes to giving parents who care about the children’s education the freedom to improve their life outcomes.
But education choice—whether in charters or vouchers—comes with the built-in accountability that they must compete to attract students, and parents can withdraw their children if they are unhappy. Even if test scores aren’t notably different, why should the default be keeping kids trapped in public schools rather than letting parents make the choice?
These new studies should give a boost to those who believe accountability comes from parents who know better than a distant education bureaucracy what schools best work for their children.