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School Choice: The Findings

By Herbert J. Walberg
About the Book

School Choice: The Findings is the most comprehensive and up‐​to‐​date survey available, summarizing the research on charter schools, vouchers, and public versus private school effectiveness, from one of the country’s most distinguished education scholars. The focus is on rigorous studies—those using randomized control groups (as in medical research), those that monitor achievement changes over time, and those based on large numbers of students.

Whereas the U.S. school choice debate is often confined to the small‐​scale voucher programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland, Dr. Walberg examines evidence from around the world. School Choice: The Findings touches on Chile’s 25‐​year‐​old nationwide voucher program, the Dutch universal voucher program dating back to 1917, and the more recent program in Sweden.

The findings presented here also go beyond academic achievement, covering students’ civic engagement, cost comparisons across school types, and public and parental opinion about schools and school choice. Dr. Walberg reveals how much Americans know about school choice. Do they support it? What about families whose children are enrolled in charter schools or in private schools thanks to a voucher program? Are they happier with the quality of their children’s education than those whose children attend an assigned public school?

While acknowledging and discussing some notable exceptions, Dr. Walberg concludes that the consensus of the high‐​quality international research overwhelmingly favors competition and parental choice in education over the monopoly systems that dominate the United States and many other industrialized countries.

About the Author

HERBERT J.WALBERG is a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and project investigator at the Vanderbilt University Center of School Choice, Competition, and Achievement. Walberg has written or edited more than 60 books, including Radical Education Reforms. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and taught at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Chicago for 35 years.

He is also a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education and the National Board for Education Sciences. Walberg joins two other Koret Task Force members in this advisory role to the research arm of the Department of Education.

Walberg is also chairman of the board of directors of the Heartland Institute, an independent, nonprofit research center headquartered in Chicago.

What Others Have Said

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. The book is a quick read but is heavy on useful statistics and data.”
—JILLIAN METZ, School Reform News

“The debate over school choice must be informed by solid evidence. School Choice: The Findings does just that, and in an extremely accessible and well‐​written manner.”
—HARRY ANTHONY PATRINOS, Lead Education Economist, World Bank

“There has been considerable research on school choice over the last decade, producing a literature filled with controversy and conflicting findings. In this book, one of the nation’s most reputable education scholars provides a helpful overview and assessment of all this work—one that anyone interested in the choice issue can surely benefit from reading.”
—TERRY MOE, Professor of Political Science, Standford University

“Herb Walberg has brought together into one concise document much of what is known about school choice in the United States and around the world.”
—PAUL PETERSON, Director, Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University

“This new Cato book is a good introduction to the empirical literature on vouchers and charter schools.”
—TYLER COWEN, Mar​gin​al​Rev​o​lu​tion​.com

“He explains everything in simple, but not simplistic, language so that parents who are interested in this subject can read it and form an opinion without having to get a University degree in education first. All in all, School Choice: The Findings is an important contribution to the larger debate about school choice, vouchers, etc. Whether one opposes school choice or whether one supports it, School Choice: The Findings should be required reading material.”
—MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN, mon​ster​sand​crit​ics​.com