A Bipartisan Case for School Choice

It can easily be bipartisan — here is Melissa Moschella writing at Public Discourse:

Let’s set aside partisanship and unite to provide disadvantaged children with the educational opportunities they deserve. Rather than deny low-income families the same educational choice that wealthier families enjoy, we should seek other ways to improve the quality and efficiency of public schools.

Most of the policy goals that President Donald Trump outlined in his address to Congress are subjects of heated public controversy—many for good reason. But one proposal that should not be controversial is the expansion of school choice programs for low-income families. This proposal should be supported by concerned politicians and citizens across the political spectrum.

For conservatives and libertarians, school choice programs are an obvious improvement over a situation in which government-run schools have a monopoly on public educational funding, despite the fact that, on average, private and religious schools consistently outperform public schools on all measures. If private and religious schools serve the public interest in educating children better than public schools do, it is unjust not to allow parents to use public educational funds at those schools. Furthermore, school choice programs help to bring our education policies more in line with the primacy of parental educational authority, a point that I will discuss in greater detail below.

For liberals, enabling children from low-income families to have access to some of the advantages enjoyed by the wealthy should be seen as an obvious gain with regard to equality of opportunity. In Washington, DC, for instance, participants in the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) for low-income students had a high school graduation rate 21 percent higher than their peers, according to a 2013 study by Patrick Wolf from the University of Arkansas and colleagues. These findings led Wolf and his colleagues to conclude that the OSP is “one of the most effective urban dropout prevention programs yet witnessed.”

Read more: Public Discourse

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