Private school vouchers help level the playing field

An Op-Ed from the Cincinnati Enquirer offers some interesting counters to those who criticize the use of school vouchers that allow former public school students with low family incomes to attend a private school of their choice instead.

The Op-Ed’s author, Aaron Churchill, points to a number of positive impacts from vouchers such as an opportunity for students who are not being well served by their public school to seek an alternative with higher potential. He also takes issue with critics that claim voucher programs don’t really do better with these students, pointing out that 14 of 18 top quality studies do show vouchers improve results.

Churchill comments on several recent studies that don’t favor vouchers, pointing out limitations in both the Louisiana and the Ohio reports.

For example, the Louisiana report only examines two years of data.

Note: Findings from CREDO studies of charter school impacts over time, which we have discussed many times before such as here, indicate that only two years of data provide too small a sample to provide accurate evidence of performance when traditional public school students move to an alternative school environment.

Churchill notes that the Ohio study looked at only a small portion of public school students who transferred to a voucher school, saying that might not be an adequate sample, either. However, while critics jump on some of the findings in this Ohio study, Churchill points out that those critics carefully ignore another key finding – the voucher program also produces positive effects in the traditional school system.

We find similar blindness in school choice critics regarding the CREDO studies’ repeated finding that charter schools do better once students have spent enough time in them to reasonably expect benefits to actually take place. This CREDO finding about impacts over time is a hugely important, but you won’t hear groups like the teachers’ unions talking about that part of the CREDO reports.

So, I suggest reading through Churchill’s entire Op-Ed. It certainly casts the voucher discussion in a new light.