School Choice: The Findings
By Herb Walberg
Washington, DC: Cato Institute Press, 2007
110 pages, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-933955-04-5, $9.95
Herbert Walberg’s latest book, School Choice: The Findings, is a great weapon to have in a debate on school choice. Walberg provides readers with empirical ammunition to fight for school choice by presenting scientific studies and statistics that show the power of school choice and its positive impact on America’s youth.
Walberg explores several analyses of charter schools, vouchers, and the effects of private schools. He further investigates the downward spiral of the nation’s public schools and compares the United States to other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
One of Walberg’s most compelling chapters is titled “Geopolitical Area Choice Effects,” in which he reveals the barriers preventing American public schools from advancing. He also discusses the ingredients necessary to produce more effective public policy and a more aggressive education system.
The overall theme of School Choice: The Findings is how competition spurs efficiency and effectiveness. The Federal Trade Commission, which traditionally ranks competition in U.S. industries, declares education markets to be “substantially uncompetitive.”
At only 110 pages, the book is a quick read but is heavy on useful statistics and data. Walberg diplomatically presents the facts and informs readers when causal relationships can be accepted based on the parameters of the analysis. The book takes a “roots up” approach, explaining the dynamics of different school choice programs while exploring all available data.
One effect of school choice that has been overlooked is its effect on graduation rates. The studies reviewed by Walberg focused mainly on achievement tests, but it would be beneficial for readers to observe the influence school choice has had on the graduation rate crisis as well.
Readers of School Choice: The Findings might have benefitted from seeing more of Walberg’s personal opinions. He is a distinguished school choice proponent and author, and getting his opinions on the effects of school choice would have been both powerful and enlightening. As a project investigator at the Vanderbilt University Center of School Choice, Competition and Achievement, Walberg’s predictions for the future of school choice and public education would be immensely valuable to know.
Jillian Metz ([email protected]) writes from Florida.