We do not have any additional breaking news to report on Europe once again descending into Jew-hating, illiberal fascism. But we do have some good news to report on school choice. My colleagues, Bob Maranto and Dirk Van Raemdonck, have a piece in the Wall Street Journal on how the US and Belgium made different choices about how to handle religious conflict over education in the 19th century. The US chose to persecute its minority Catholic population by imposing a vaguely Protestant monopoly system on all students while Belgium created a competitive system allowing for choice across different religious and secular school systems. The Belgian system is less repressive and has produced better outcomes. Perhaps the US could give that approach more of a try.
Separately, Matt Chingos and Paul Peterson have an article in the Journal of Public Economics (also available without pay wall here) that supports the claim that the US would produce better long-term outcomes if it expanded school choice. Chingos and Peterson are able to track long term outcomes of a privately-funded school choice program in New York City that gave students small scholarships to attend a private school. As Chingos describes the results on the Ed Next blog:
Minority students who received a school voucher to attend private elementary schools in 1997 were, as of 2013, 10 percent more likely to enroll in college and 35 percent more likely than their peers in public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Keep in mind that this is an enormous return on a very small investment. The privately funded voucher was only worth $1,400, which is $2,080 in 2014 dollars. And the Chingos and Peterson results are particularly important because they track long term outcomes that we know really matter, like attending and completing college. Most studies of school choice focus on short term effects on standardized tests, which may not capture as well or as completely the benefits of a quality education.
(edited to correct typo)