Could School Choice Erase the Income Gap?

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Speaking of the Chicago teachers’ strike…from NCPA:

It’s puzzling that one of the best remedies for economic inequality, allowing low-income parents to choose the elementary and secondary schools that their children attend, is often left out of political speeches about economic inequality, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

The problem is twofold.

  • First, in many communities, children must attend their “neighborhood” public school, although this constraint has been modified in the last decade or so by new rules that let some children in some states qualify for out-of-boundary schools.
  • Second, the teachers’ unions oppose monetary subsidies, usually called vouchers, that let students opt out of a local public school and attend another school, whether public or private, secular or parochial.

Unions oppose such choice because it threatens to reduce enrollment in the public schools, especially the worst ones, and shrink the number of employed teachers who pay dues to the union. In this, the unions put institutional self-interest ahead of wider educational choices for low-income children.

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