Democrats and progressives call themselves “pro-choice”, but when it comes to education they ardently support a coercive monopoly for all. These opponents of school choice see school choice as “corporate education” where only the rich gain access to high quality and affordable education.
The reality is that school choice enables families to have more options when it comes to educating their children. People learn in different ways and each family has unique needs. Allowing more freedom of choice leads to better outcomes for all, and the evidence clearly shows this.
Education Quality & Academic Outcomes
Those who oppose school choice claim that it harms public schools by diverting money and resources away from them. However, a vast majority of the empirical evidence shows that when faced with competition, public schools end up performing better, which is precisely what economic theory would predict.
An empirical comparison of the educational outcomes of public, public charter, and private schools showed “the private sector outperforms the public sector in the overwhelming majority of cases.” At the very least, private schools perform slightly better, but they do so at a much lower cost to taxpayers. The fundamental point that should be understood is that introducing competition and greater freedom of choice results in educational innovation, improved quality, lower cost, and greater student performance and future success.
Contrary to what some opponents of school choice claim, school choice programs result in decreased racial segregation. A Harvard study looked at a New York school choice program’s effect on the rate of college enrollment of African-Americans. The study found that “using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African-Americans by 24 percent.”
Further, there have been eight empirical studies looking at how racial segregation in schools is related to school choice programs. “Of these, seven find that school choice moves students from more segregated schools into less segregated schools. One finds no net effect on segregation from school choice. No empirical study has found that [school] choice increases racial segregation.”
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, rates of secondary school completion among poor children rose 15-20 percent because of school choice. The evidence is on the side of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who said that school choice vouchers will only slightly help wealthy families, will help middle-class families moreso, and will help poor families by far the most.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
The reality is that everybody learns differently. We all have unique needs and preferences and by introducing a variety of school choice programs, different schools can experiment with different methods and models, and families of all different backgrounds can be better equipped and empowered to receive the type of educational experience that is optimal for them.