School Voucher Myths

August 28, 2001

The battle over school vouchers has been an ongoing struggle with lots of rhetoric exchanged on both sides. At least one group has decided to confront some of the myths about school vouchers head on. The Black Alliance for Educational Options has taken out full page ads to tell the truth about school vouchers. Their latest ad attempts to correct a number of erroneous statements attributed to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

1. Senator Clinton says, "Experiments have demonstrated absolutely no evidence that vouchers help improve student achievement." Not true, say the Black Alliance.

There have been at least ten studies of voucher programs in six different cities and one state. Many of the studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Several of them report statistically significant gains in academic achievement among voucher students.

2. Senator Clinton says, "we know that vouchers do not help the students who need the help the most." Again, the Black Alliance says this is untrue.

Evidence from tax-supported and privately-financed voucher programs in Milwaukee, WI, Cleveland, OH, Pensacola, FL, New York City, Charlotte, NC, Dayton, OH, and Washington, DC shows that most students are from low-income families, mostly of color. In fact, the Florida McKay Scholarship Program only serves students with disabilities.

3. Senator Clinton says that vouchers "do nothing to help improve public schools." Black Alliance disagrees.

Harvard University's Caroline Hoxby analyzed achievement in public schools affected by the Milwaukee voucher program (which is the nation's largest and oldest program). She found that "public schools [in Milwaukee] have a strong positive response to competition from vouchers." She also found that "schools that faced the most potential competition from vouchers had the best productivity response."

In a state-sponsored evaluation of Florida's A+ Program, Jay P. Greene of The Manhattan Institute found that public schools most affected by the prospect of vouchers improved at twice the rate of other public schools.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options deserves our thanks for taking the time to correct some of the myths floating around about school vouchers.