The Heartland Institute?s School Reform News is full of interesting stuff this month. In the ?Friedman Report,? from the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation, two studies are described as offering promising new evidence for the power of choice and competition in school reform.
In the case of Milwaukee, which has had the nation?s most expansive voucher program for a long time, our friend Jay Greene has found that the graduation rate for students attending private schools with vouchers was 64 percent in 2003 compared to 34 percent for students in Milwaukee?s non-selective public high schools and 41 percent in the city?s selective public high schools. That is devastating because the voucher kids are, by definition, disadvantaged ? if the ?selective? public high schools can?t deliver at least as good an outcome, then the argument that private schools succeed only by ?creaming? the best kids off the top of the distribution is shown to be mistaken.
The other research isn?t about K-12 vouchers but instead about preschool. Researchers at Georgia State have found in areas where public, for-profit, and nonprofit preschools compete (for public dollars strapped to youngsters? backs), the students perform better than do comparable students in areas where only public school districts provide the preschool services.