School Choice: Ignoring Evidence
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To see why "school choice" is not the answer simply requires looking at the evidence. There are two key pieces of evidence. First, "school choice" does not lead to better learning outcomes. A study published in Evidence Speaks Reports concludes:
Four recent rigorous studies—in the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio—used different research designs and reached the same result: on average, students that use vouchers to attend private schools do less well on tests than similar students that do not attend private schools. The Louisiana and Indiana studies offer some hints that negative effects may diminish over time. Whether effects ever will become positive is unclear.Second, and this should be very obvious. Scores in standardized tests have consistently shown strong correlation with socio-economic status. Schools that serve students who predominantly come from low-income families do not perform well in math and reading exams. A "Failing Government School" denies the fact that it is actually a school failed by the government. The problem is inequity. Solving the problem therefore requires addressing the inequity first and foremost.
Poverty has a profound impact on education. Poverty affects the health and well-being of children. It should therefore be clear that we cannot improve education unless we first meet the basic needs of these children. Schools that serve less privileged children require greater resources. Teachers that attend to these children need greater support. As Ravitch points, out, All of this is common sense."
"School choice" is really a very stupid response to the evidence.