One thing I learned long ago is that many lawmakers don’t let facts get in their way when pushing a pet project. This is especially true when it comes to school vouchers, such as those done through the Alabama Accountability Act, even though their merit has been questionsedover and over again.
Here is a good recap of recent voucher research from Ed Week.
And here are parts of the article that really got my attention:
“There’s been surging national interest in private-school-voucher programs with the Trump administration’s embrace of the idea.
But newer research on large-scale voucher programs has complicated the debate over private-school choice—policies which allow families to use public money or aid to attend private schools, including religious ones.
What does the research say? In a nutshell: The most recent findings are mixed, but they lean more toward negative.
Studies out of Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and the District of Columbia have found that students, most of whom are low-income, fare worse academically after leaving their public schools.
“I think the best evidence from the best recent research … if anything, it looks like that maybe kids going to private school on voucher programs might do worse in reading and math than they do in public [schools],” said David Figlio, an economist at Northwestern University, whose study of vouchers in Ohio for low-income students attending poor-performing districts found voucher students performed significantly worse on state tests than their peers who were eligible for vouchers but remained in public schools.
His research on Florida’s biggest private-school choice program—the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship—found that on average, attending a private school on an FTC scholarship had zero effect on student academic achievement—which was generally true of most early voucher research, said Figlio.
“There are possible explanations: they’re getting a worse education … they’re getting a different form of education … and I don’t think we really know the truth,” Figlio said. “But I think there’s precious little evidence so far that these kids do better academically.”
“Despite having very negative impacts on student performance, it’s over supplied,” said Christopher Walters, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley who studied Louisiana’s vouchers with researchers from Duke University and MIT. “The parents could be interested in other school attributes [such as] religious instruction … But one takeaway is that we shouldn’t expect parents to make choices that improve student academic achievement.”
The highlighted sentence above speaks volumes. No way will I ever be convinced that the average parent knows more about education and schools and what is best for certain students than educators do.
Assuming they do makes as much sense as assuming that when the doctor told mama that I had to have my appendix removed, she told him he was wrong and all I had was a sore throat.