Heartland Institute Corrects Record, Rebuts Education Blogger’s Attack on Taxpayers’ Savings Grants in Texas

Published June 14, 2011

On May 18, a Texas-based education consultant and blogger named Ed Fuller posted an essay titled “Vouchers? A Bad Idea and Here Is [sic] Several Reasons Why” on his blog. Fuller offers a variety of objections to the general idea of vouchers and specifically to a Policy Brief written by John Merrifield and Joseph L. Bast about a Texas proposal to use a Taxpayers’ Savings Grant Program (TSGP) to help close the state’s budget gap. The authors of that brief have issued a reply.

Write Merrifield and Bast:

“Fuller claims ‘the authors underestimate the true cost of tuition in private schools …’ and returns repeatedly to this claim over the course of the essay. The claim is false, and Fuller’s focus on private school tuition levels reveals he doesn’t understand how the analysis of enrollment and tax savings was conducted. …

“Fuller claims the Milwaukee and Edgewood district real-world school choice programs that Merrifield and Bast cite are “isolated programs” whereas “statewide programs would have different effects on enrollment in schools of choice. Yet, the authors never mention this.” This too is wrong. The enrollment rate predicted by Chiswick and Koutroumanes is plainly applicable to a statewide program, since it is based on national data.

“Fuller claims ‘there is ample research evidence that finds school choice programs segregate students on the basis of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and ability level.’ This is a deliberately inflammatory claim that cannot be supported by an objective review of the literature. …

“We stand by our original analysis of the Taxpayers’ Savings Grant program: It is likely to save taxpayers approximately $2 billion in the first two years of the program. When asked to produce that analysis, we were not asked to address the effects of the program on student achievement. But having responded to Fuller’s concerns here, we are comfortable saying we believe the TSGP also would benefit students, parents, and teachers in Texas.”

(The full rebuttal is attached. If there’s a problem with the attachment, download a PDF of the rebuttal by clicking here.)

For more information about the Taxpayers’ Savings Grants Program, go tohttp://www.taxpayersavingsgrants.org/ or to The Heartland Institute’sTexas education page, which has 22 documents explaining and defending this school choice proposal.

The Heartland Institute also has produced a video that explains how the Taxpayers’ Savings Grants work. Watch it at Heartland’s YouTube page.

To speak to Mr. Bast and other education policy experts at The Heartland Institute, contact Jim Lakely, director of communications at [email protected] or 312/731-9364.