New study dispels myths about school-choice states


A group that advocates for more school choice said critics of states that allow for vouchers, or tax-credit scholarships to the school of a parent’s choice, are wrong when they say school choice leads to segregation.

Drew Catt is director of state research and policy analysis at EdChoice, a school choice advocacy group. He helped with a new study that compared so-called choice states with non-choice states.

Catt said the study evaluated the effects of school choice on student capacity and composition, and the effects of choice on racial diversity.

“School-choice programs have not caused more racial segregation at the school level,” Catt said. “That is contrary to what some critics say.”

He also said another myth is that test scores in private schools worsen, “which can sometimes be true in the first few years, but we’ve seen over time that the students participating actually improve. We’ve seen over time that the public schools that start competing for some of these students improve over time.”

While Illinois does have limited public charter school options, the state doesn’t allow tax credits or vouchers to be applied to a private school if parents make that choice.

In neighboring Indiana, Catt said there are restrictions on poor-performing private schools admitting more students with vouchers or tax-credit programs.

Catt said there are 61 different programs in 30 states, plus the District of Columbia. That includes education savings accounts, vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and individual tax credits or individual tax deductions, Catt said.

Catt said future studies will be more thorough as more data becomes available over the next five to six years on newer, more widespread and broader types of education-choice programs.

The study can be found online here.