How to Discourage Competition

Published November 1, 1999

The ongoing court battles over the constitutionality of the Cleveland voucher program not only tie up the resources of school choice advocates, but also create among the program’s participants fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the program’s future.

In his September 2 report on the Cleveland school choice program, Dr. Kim K. Metcalf of Indiana University identified this as a source of concern and said that one of the important issues that remain to be answered is the impact of these battles on the schools, teachers, families, and students.

Metcalf’s identification of this effect as an important research issue unfortunately came at a very timely moment–immediately following Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.’s temporary lifting of his abrupt suspension of the Cleveland choice program.

“Many parents fear that they might be forced to move their children out of the private schools to which they had only recently become adapted,” said Metcalf, noting it was unclear how this uncertainty would affect their continued participation.

“In addition, given the uncertainties of the program, private schools have been reluctant to add new classes or hire new teachers to meet the increased demand created by the scholarship students,” he continued. “As a result, and as reported by families, many students could not enroll in the school of their choice because there were no places for them.”