Even Under the Worst Conditions, School Choice Works

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Parents, educators, and education policy nerds are probably all aware that the “school choice” provision of the No Child Left Behind act is mainly a cruel hoax. It is the most incomplete, inconsistent, unfair, and poorly designed school choice provision imaginable; moreover school districts often simply ignore said aspects of the law.

Nevertheless, NCLB is the law of the land and therefore so is public school choice. Now a couple of Yale University economists have conducted a study of public school choice in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district and have concluded that students in CMS who take advantage of choice (such as it is) attend better schools, receive fewer suspensions, and get higher test scores on average. The report is here.

If school choice works even when it’s hamstrung in every conceivable way, imagine what could happen if it were implemented with decent program design and good faith. Actually, no need to imagine: here’s the story of the same district’s previous experiment with a privately-funded plan that provided true school choice.

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