Last week Slate published a misinformed piece on Sweden’s school choice program and what we can learn from it. The errors of fact and logic are glaring. Apparently, they don’t have multiple layers of fact checking over there, so I decided to lend a hand and correct the record at Education Next.
Here’s a snippet:
First, [Slate] claims that “more Swedish students go to privately run (and mostly for‐profit) schools than in any other developed country on earth.” In fact, neither of these claims is true. Taking the parenthetical claim first, according to the most recent data of which I am aware (from 2012), the majority of Swedish private schools are non‐profit (in Swedish, “Ideella”).
As for overall private sector enrollment among industrialized countries, we can consult the OECD, an association of 34 industrialized nations that administers the PISA test:
“On average across OECD countries… 14% of students attend government‐dependent [i.e., gov’t-funded] private schools…. In Sweden, the share of students in private schools increased significantly over the past decade from 4% in 2003 to 14% in 2012…. This brings the share of students in private schools close to the OECD average.”
Slate, in other words, is badly mistaken on this point. How badly? Here are the top five industrialized countries by share of private school enrollment, according to the OECD’s 2012 PISA database:
Belgium 68.4 Netherlands 67.6 Ireland 58.2 Korea 47.5 UK 45.2
Sweden doesn’t even come close.…