POOR CHOICES YIELD BETTER EDUCATION

Recall John Dendahl’s words in the Albuquerque Journal last Friday:

Sadly, most of New Mexico’s children will continue to be among those who either drop out of school or arrive at high school graduation inadequately prepared. …
How many chapters of “reform” must we endure before we adopt the one reform with real promise to restore educational opportunity for our kids? Why isn’t there a Gov. Bill Richardson’s School Choice Agenda?
There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that Richardson doesn’t know he could pitch a perfect game with choice. But teachers’ union bosses are among his owners, and they say “no” to competition. Monopolies never serve their markets well, but government schools must remain a virtual monopoly anyway

.
Now from our friends at NCPA comes a reminder of this by Andrew Coulson:

For many years, school choice programs have been at the center of the
education reform debate and many Americans are now convinced that the
education of disadvantaged children would suffer if the government did
not run schools and if poor parents were allowed to make choices, says
Andrew Coulson of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
However, according to studies of impoverished villages and urban
slums in India, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, school choice programs are
actually beneficial, says Coulson.
o On average, 75 percent of the students in these areas
attend tuition-charging private schools.
o More than one out of every six private school students pay
less than full tuition and one in 14 attends private
school for free.
o These private schools spend far less per pupil (their
teachers’ salaries are roughly one-third of those in the
public sector), but the schools usually enjoy lower
rates of teacher absenteeism and comparable facilities and
teacher satisfaction.
o Most importantly, the private schools significantly
outperform their government-school counterparts
academically — even after controlling for differences in
student characteristics between the two sectors.
These results are consistent with U.S. education research that
finds that inexpensive private schools serving the poor in the United
States produce achievement and graduation rates that at least equal,
and usually surpass, those of the highest-spending neighborhood public
schools, says Coulson.
Moreover, all those concerned with improving the state of American
education should feel compelled to expand access to independent schools
by the most effective means possible, including the use of education
tax credits; if we do so, we will begin to catch up with the generosity
already on display in the Third World, says Coulson.

Source: Andrew J. Coulson, “‘http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=7369 Poor Choices’ Yield Better Education,”
Viewpoint on Public Policy, no. 2005-29, October 3, 2005.

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