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Back to May Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 220 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MAY 2004

Study Finds Public Schools
Improve When Facing Competition
Carolyn Hoxby
Carolyn Hoxby
Public schools respond constructively to competition induced by school choice, according to a new study by Harvard economist Carolyn Hoxby. Thus, students who remain in public schools benefit from school choice programs. This conclusion is in stark contrast to the principal anti-choice argument: that vouchers will weaken public schools.

The study examined relatively large, established school choice programs. The largest achievement gains were in those public schools that faced the most competition. For example, students in Milwaukee public schools where at least two-thirds of students were eligible for vouchers scored 8.1, 13.8 and 8.0 national percentile rank points higher in math, science and language, respectively.

Hoxby estimates that public schools currently operate at only about 50% to 65% of their achievement potential, mostly due to rigid rules on hiring practices, pay scales and unsuccessful educational methods. Parents who move their child and money to another school create pressure on public schools to become more productive, thereby benefiting the students who stay in those schools.

Moreover, U.S. private schools cost on average only 60% of what public schools do. School choice programs actually result in more resources for public schools because private schools cost so much less. (signonsandiego.com, 3-18-04)


 
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