(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Check out my latest for the OCPA – school choice is back!
So vouchers are back from the dead. The question now is, are they resurrected in triumph, or are they really an undead abomination? Are vouchers, like Gandalf, “returned from death” in a new and more powerful form, ready to do battle with evil once again? Or are they like zombies, mindlessly dragging themselves up out of the grave with no will of their own and no purpose?
The smart people will say it’s the latter. Vouchers don’t work—after all, Milwaukee schools are still awful. They’re a moribund idea with nothing new to contribute. Republicans favor them because they’re mindlessly enslaved to a failed free-market ideology, just like the walking dead under the control of a wicked sorcerer.
They’re wrong on the facts. Vouchers do, in fact, work. Ten studies have examined how vouchers impact students who use them—studies using the gold-standard method of social science, random assignment that separates treatment and control groups by lottery. Nineteen studies have examined how vouchers impact public schools. This large body of high-quality evidence consistently finds that vouchers improve results. (See the forthcoming updated edition of my report for the Foundation for Educational Choice, “A Win-Win Solution.”)
However, although the smart people are wrong on the facts, they inadvertently point to a real danger.