Private Vouchers

March 10, 2000

A recent study provides more good news for proponents of private vouchers. A Harvard University study released last week finds that African-Americans who receive private educational vouchers perform better in elementary school than their public school counterparts.

The year-long study from Harvardís Program on Education Policy and Governance tracked 810 students who applied in a random lottery for scholarships from the Washington Scholarship Fund. This is a private voucher program in Washington, D.C. that provides up to $1700 for public school students to attend private schools.

The study divided the students in half. Half of the group received a scholarship, while the other half remained in local public schools.

The study found that black students entering private schools in grades two to five outperformed public school students by six points in math and three points in reading. They were also three times more likely to give their school an "A" in a student evaluation.

Parents of private voucher recipients were more than three times more likely to be pleased by their childís education as parent of public school students. These parents also reported significantly less concern with fighting, property destruction, and class size.

One of the most significant aspects of the study was the analysis of the notion that vouchers encourage "creaming"--the removal of the best students from public schools into private schools that results in general decline of academic standards in public schools. An analysis of the differences between students who accepted the scholarships and students who declined indicated little statistical difference between the groups.

A spokesperson for the National Education Association, which opposes public vouchers, argued that the study "doesnít cover an expansive amount of time to say anything definitive about the effectiveness of vouchers." And that may be so, but the survey will continue to track these students over the next several years. I predict they will still perform better.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.