School Voucher Mythbusters


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

A while back, I posted this to help people find comprehensive lists of the research on various subjects related to school vouchers. It’s a list of lists – in case you’re looking for a list of all the available research on whether vouchers improve education for the kids who use them, or whether they improve public schools, and so forth. Some of the lists are more scholarly and contain a lot of technical information, while some are presented in a more easily accessible format.

Well, here’s a big update on the list-of-lists front: the Friedman Foundation has released a set of “myth buster” guides to the research on the six most common school choice myths. For each myth they’ve provided a brief, handy reference sheet and a slightly longer, more detailed guide to the research. Even the detailed version of each myth buster is still less technical than the other lists on my “meta-list” page, compiled by Jay and other scholars, but it does go over the most important technical issues (how do we distinguish the impact of vouchers from the impact of other factors like family influence?) and provides the references you’ll need to dig further if you wish.


Myth: Vouchers hurt public schools and take the best and brightest.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Myth: Private schools aren’t really better than public schools.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Myth: Vouchers will lead to increased segregation.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Myth: Private schools are hostile to tolerance and democratic values.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Myth: Vouchers are costly and drain money from public schools.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Myth: Private schools exclude difficult students.

Research: Short version, detailed version.


Take note that these are true comprehensive lists, including all high-quality studies on each of these questions. I’ve noticed that it’s always voucher supporters who are willing to discuss all the evidence, while voucher opponents typically cherry-pick the evidence, mischaracterize the evidence they’ve cherry-picked, and then falsely accuse voucher supporters of cherry-picking evidence.

So I would say Jay’s theory about why school vouchers keep winning against impossible odds is well supported by the empirical evidence – although in this case I haven’t compiled a comprehensive list.

What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.

Henry VI, Part II, Act 3, Scene 2

2 Responses to School Voucher Mythbusters

  1. […] I also recommend visiting (and bookmarking) the Friedman Foundation’s resources on “The Myths of School Choice” (HT to Greg Forster). […]

  2. […] on Jay Greene’s blog, Dr. Greg Forster has a valuable update for those of us who want a handy place to go to answer all those objections to school choice: […]

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