08 November 2007

Referendum 1 - School Voucher Follow Up

Though the polls leading up to the voucher vote were not encouraging, we held out hope that perhaps they had been wrong, that perhaps vouchers would win out. Regrettably, we were wrong.

It seems parents in suburban Utah believe their schools are good enough and care little for those attending failing schools. They bought the disingenuous ad campaigns funded by teachers unions that insisted that public schools would suffer as a result of this legislation.

As Paul Mero told us after the debate at Provo High School, this isn't the end of vouchers. He and others like him have been fighting these battles to improve education for 20+ years and along the way they've accomplished a lot--charter schools, magnet schools, intra-district transfers--and they'll keep on fighting. The potential of vouchers is far to great to be ignored and slowly but surely, the evidence in favor continues to grow.

This paper is especially worth reading. It's by Caroline Hoxby, a Harvard Economist, and represents the very latest in education economics (hat tip: Matt Lybbert): School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)

The abstract from the article:
A school that is more productive is one that produces higher achievement in its pupils for each dollar it spends. In this paper, I comprehensively review how school choice might affect productivity. I begin by describing the importance of school productivity, then explain the economic logic that suggests that choice will affect productivity, and finish by presenting much of the available evidence on school choice and school productivity. The most intriguing evidence comes from three important, recent choice reforms: vouchers in Milwaukee, charter schools in Michigan, and charter schools in Arizona. I show that public school students' achievement rose significantly and rapidly in response to competition, under each of the three reforms. Public school spending was unaffected, so the productivity of public schools rose, dramatically in the case in Milwaukee.
This issue wont go away. We certainly wont let it die here at OL&L. Good things are worth fighting for.

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