The amount of students choosing charter schools, homeschools, vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, or education savings accounts (ESAs) has been steadily increasing over the past decade. Under these programs, parents are given a choice in their child’s education instead of being assigned to a public school based on a ZIP code. As more states have adopted these reforms, a greater amount of reliable research has been conducted on the impact choice programs are having on education outcomes, integration, and costs.
Support for school choice remains strong for parents, especially those of minority students. A national survey of likely 2018 voters show Latinos and African-Americans continue to back all school choice options, with overwhelming majorities. Wisconsin State Sen. Polly Williams, an African-American Democrat, championed the nation’s first private school voucher program, which was launched in 1990 in Milwaukee. She understood that disadvantaged families desire a quality education for their children just as much as wealthy families do, but without school choice programs, kids end up trapped in failing, poorly run public schools.
In a recent Research & Commentary, Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson wrote about a new study in which researchers evaluated the effects of vouchers on student achievement after three years in Louisiana. This study, conducted by University Arkansas researchers with the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP), is the latest in a series of studies concerning the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a statewide school voucher program exclusively for low-income students, who are chosen via a random lottery. The study found the longer students participated in the LSP, the better they perform.
“Other studies of LSP by SCDP have shown the program is saving Louisiana money, reducing segregation in Pelican State public schools, and, via competition, improving outcomes for students who remain in the public schools, especially those schools that are most aggressively challenged by their LSP counterparts,” wrote Benson.
Another benefit of the LSP, and other similar programs, is that it has helped to racially integrate the state’s public schools – a notable feat considering that public schools have actually become more racially segregated in recent years. Nine out of 10 studies “using valid empirical methods” have found school choice programs on average move students into less segregated private schools from more segregated public ones.
“Public schools are intractably segregated by race, mostly because students are assigned to schools based on where they live,” EdChoice wrote. “School choice has the potential to break down those residential barriers.”
The EdChoice report summarizes, “School choice improves academic outcomes for participants and public schools by allowing students to find the schools that best match their needs and by introducing healthy competition that keeps schools mission-focused. It saves money by eliminating administrative bloat and rewarding good stewardship of resources. It breaks down the barriers of residential segregation, drawing students together from diverse communities.”
Concerned parents agree that school choice is the best choice in order to ensure a decent education for their children. The LSP is one of many programs that have cropped up across the country in response to the need for better academic performance, more integrated schools, and diverse options.
Health Care Reform: A Toolbox for Patriots and Policymakers
In this preview to the fourth edition of The Patriot’s Toolbox, Heartland CEO Joseph Bast and Heartland Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans address health care reform and provide [JH1] principles that can guide reform efforts. “The good news is that policymakers can make health care more affordable and higher quality without increasing state budgets or the national debt, and without violating the freedoms of patients or health care providers,” wrote Bast and Glans. Read more
Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: States Should Move Away from Grocery Taxes
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines grocery taxes, the problems they create, and why repealing these efforts has been difficult. “Grocery taxes are unpopular, regressive, and play a key role in denying low-income families the nutritious food they need to stay healthy. Instead of imposing burdensome taxes on families, state legislators should focus on encouraging government efficiency; low, broad-based taxes; and placing reasonable limits on spending,” wrote Glans. Read more
Research & Commentary: Contrary to Union Rhetoric, School Voucher Programs Help to Integrate Schools
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson dismisses a new Center for American Progress report on the “racist origins” of school vouchers. Benson argues vouchers have a long history that predates their Jim Crow-era hijacking by Southern segregationists and notes that some of the earliest backers of modern voucher programs were black Democrats. Benson also notes nearly all the valid empirical evidence shows voucher programs help to integrate schools; not a single study shows they increase segregation. Read more
Energy & Environment
States Move to Roll Back Environmental Rules, Following President’s Example
In this article for Environment & Climate News, Kenneth Artz reports many state legislatures are following President Donald Trump’s lead by rolling back overly burdensome environmental mandates, reducing state interventions in energy markets, and promoting greater use and easier development of energy resources. Among those actions, New Mexico’s Senate Corporation Committee in March rejected a proposed increase to the state’s renewable-energy mandate. In May, Iowa allowed a 1.5-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for renewable energy to lapse. Also in May, Indiana enacted legislation ending its net-metering program, which had forced utilities to pay households with rooftop solar panels retail rates for excess electricity they sent to the grid, raising energy costs. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
How to Fix Long-Term Care Financing
A new study by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform and Foundation for Government Accountability explore the complex problem of long-term care (LTC) financing, especially as the problem relates to the Medicaid expansion ushered in under the Affordable Care Act. Individuals, even wealthy ones, can take advantage of Medicaid funds to pay for their expensive long-term care because the existing structure and eligibility of the program incentivizes people to choose not to plan for health care risks and to avoid paying monthly premiums. This research shows why most analysts are wrong in believing LTC financing inevitably leads to fiscal insolvency in Medicaid. Read more