Latest Cato Research on Federal Education Policy en Trump Budget Proposal Reins in Unconstitutional, Bloated Department of Education Neal McCluskey <div class="lead text-default"> <p>If you love a&nbsp;constitutionally constrained federal government, President Trump’s latest&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">budget request</a>&nbsp;for Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education will warm your heart. But there’s more to be done.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Let’s start with the best part: The budget would cut $6.1 billion in education spending overall and consolidate $19.4 billion worth of K‑12 programs into simple block grants to states. That cuts federal strings off of a&nbsp;big chunk of education money, and doing so makes sense.</p> <p>This would be much more in line with the education power the Constitution gives the federal government — that is,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>absolutely</em>&nbsp;<em>none</em></a> — and states are much closer and more accountable to the people the money is supposed to serve than bureaucrats at the Department of Education. Even better would be to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">let taxpayers keep their money</a>, either by letting states opt out of federal education or by getting rid of the federal intrusion entirely. But this is a&nbsp;good first step.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The Trump administration is working to decrease the deep federal footprint on American education, and it will no doubt suffer the slings and arrows of outraged opponents because of it.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>It is also encouraging to see the administration put forward proposals to cap federal student aid and let colleges limit the debt students can take on.</p> <p>It is not clear how much substantive difference these proposals would make — there are already&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">caps on some loan programs</a>, and institutions have little incentive to discourage borrowing since their coffers swell when students can pay more — but recognition that&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">aid is at the heart</a>&nbsp;of the college cost problem is welcome.</p> <p>Things get dicier when it comes to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Education Freedom Scholarships</a>&nbsp;that the secretary of education has been promoting for a&nbsp;while.</p> <p>The Trump administration’s heart is definitely in the right place: School choice empowers families over bureaucrats and allows diverse people in a&nbsp;pluralist society to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">select the education</a>&nbsp;that meets their desires and values. And the proposal tries its hardest to avoid centralizing power by taking the form of a&nbsp;tax credit for scholarship donors rather than direct government funding via vouchers. Plus, it is only open to states that&nbsp;<em>choose</em>&nbsp;to join.</p> <p>Still, the proposal, which is included in this budget, doesn’t cut it in my book.</p> <p>The federal tax system only exists to raise revenue to execute the specific, enumerated powers the Constitution gives the federal government, and education is not among them. The opt‐​in for states is also somewhat coercive, pressuring them to adopt school choice lest their citizens not get the federal tax credit. And while research has shown that vouchers are&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">more prone to regulation</a>&nbsp;than credits, credits do carry a&nbsp;one‐​size‐​fits‐​all regulation threat to private schools. In Illinois, for instance, credits are connected to a&nbsp;mandate that private schools receiving scholarship students&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">administer state standardized tests</a>.</p> <p>Finally, the proposal contains some expansions of federal funding and intervention, contradicting constitutional principles and running counter to the overall positive tenor of the education budget. For good reason, career and technical education is trendy these days — we need more alternatives to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">increasingly less profitable college degrees</a> — but there is no reason to increase federal spending on it by $900 million as this budget would do.</p> <p>The federal government instead should just stop encouraging four‐​year degrees with profligate student aid.</p> <p>The budget would also increase money for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The intent is to help populations that have faced and continue to face serious obstacles to success, including discrimination in public schools. But the best of intentions does not mean the Constitution can be cast aside. And good intentions notwithstanding, this act has largely created a “lawyers playground” of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">litigation between districts and families</a>.</p> <p>The federal government absolutely should ensure that states and districts do not discriminate in their provision of education, but that does not require big sums of federal funding. It mainly requires a&nbsp;robust civil rights enforcement effort — preferably not by the Education Department, which is poorly equipped for it, but by the Department of Justice.</p> <p>The Trump administration is working to decrease the deep federal footprint on American education, and it will no doubt suffer the slings and arrows of outraged opponents because of it. But the administration also seems unwilling to go all‐​in on shrinking the federal role in education. Still, two steps forward and one step back sure beats standing still.</p> </div> Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:19:17 -0500 Neal McCluskey Elizabeth Warren: Taxpayer‐​Funded Student Debt Jubilee, Meet Pen and Phone Neal McCluskey <p>We already know that Elizabeth Warren’s massive student loan forgiveness proposal is <a href="">atrocious policy</a> that would saddle taxpayers with at least $640 billion in debt that millions of students freely accepted <a href="">to greatly increase their lifetime earnings</a>. That’s private profit, socialized cost. Now Warren is declaring that she’ll combine bad policy with even more dangerous government, promising to start forgiving student debt “on day one” of her presidency, as she declares in the tweet below. She offers a&nbsp;justification we’ve <a href="">seen before</a>: Congress isn’t moving fast enough. She does not, however, cite where the Constitution says Congress shall have the power to make law, unless the president decides it is taking too long.</p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="b0990d56-0131-43e0-95d5-395da7a03377" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--twitter js-embed js-embed--twitter"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" lang="en">We have a&nbsp;student loan crisis—and we can’t afford to wait for Congress to act. I’ve already proposed a&nbsp;student loan debt cancellation plan, and on day one of my presidency, I’ll use existing laws to start providing that debt cancellation immediately. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) <a href="">January 14, 2020</a></p></blockquote> </div> </div> <p>To be fair, Warren <a href="">says that there is authority</a> in law for massive loan forgiveness, and it is true that Congress has <a href="">too often given away its power</a>. But that there is legal authority for what Warren suggests she’ll do defies the obvious reading <a href="">of</a> <a href="">applicable</a> <a href="">law</a>, which not only contains no “cancel it all” provisions, but has many targeted forgiveness and cancellation programs, including for debt held by teachers and people in “public service.” If the president is legally allowed to cancel student loans in basically any way he or she sees fit, why bother with targeted programs with specific rules?</p> <p>Blanket student loan forgiveness that will fall on the backs of taxpayers is terrible education policy that should scare us a&nbsp;lot. Such policy coupled with presidential usurpation of power is awful, unconstitutional governance that should scare us much, much more.</p> Tue, 14 Jan 2020 12:26:00 -0500 Neal McCluskey Corey DeAngelis discusses education policy and makes predictions for 2020 on the Digical Education podcast Wed, 08 Jan 2020 11:46:18 -0500 Corey A. DeAngelis Bernie Sanders Is on to Something in Education Neal McCluskey <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and test‐​centric education policy, to task. “We do not need an education system in which kids are simply taught to take tests,” Sanders writes in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:"><em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">USA Today</em></a>. “We need a&nbsp;system in which kids learn and grow in a&nbsp;holistic manner.”</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Sanders is right that federal law has narrowed education largely to a&nbsp;test score (though it has&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">moved away from that a&nbsp;bit</a> with NCLB’s successor). Unfortunately, he is way off when it comes to solutions.</p> <p>NCLB was signed into law in early 2002 to improve the academic outcomes for all students, especially those in schools with the worst test scores. And it was passed with&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">strong bipartisan support</a> , because a&nbsp;lot of people had reached the logical conclusion that too many families, especially low‐​income, were powerless. They had far too little political capital to change their districts, and could not afford the cost of homes in “good” ones. The only hope for them, many concluded, was for the federal government to&nbsp;<em>force</em>states and districts to pay attention to everyone.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Bernie Sanders is right that NCLB‐​style reform—blunt, top‐​down control—is no way to run an education system. But he is wrong to attack the opposite of such reform: school choice.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The intentions behind NCLB were good, and the assessment of a&nbsp;fundamental public schooling flaw—families have little power—was dead on. But the practical effect was to concentrate power even further from families and communities, putting it in Washington, D.C. And the law relied on essentially one measure—standardized test scores—to determine “good” or “bad” performers, and did so without accounting for unique situations, from poverty levels to English‐​language learner concentrations, before slapping labels and sanctions on schools and districts.</p> <p>Senator Sanders is right to criticize NCLB. But he is greatly mistaken to also attack school choice, which he does based on some charter schools being managed by for‐​profit companies, most being non‐​union, and none supposedly being “publicly accountable.”</p> <p>The fact is, only school choice empowers&nbsp;<em>families</em> to hold their schools accountable by controlling education dollars, especially low‐​income families who cannot afford to buy expensive homes to escape schools they feel are not serving them well. “Public” accountability, in contrast, is dependency, forcing the poor to rely on political processes and bureaucracies to make schools work. But such processes tend to leave the poor and political minorities largely powerless; they have neither the elite political networks, nor often the sheer size, to significantly influence political decisions.</p> <p>There is one other thing: All children, families, and communities are different, so <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">no one system could serve them all equally</a> no matter how much political power they had.</p> <p>In addition to shunting choice aside, Senator Sanders suggests that “underinvestment in our schools” is a&nbsp;major problem.</p> <p>How one defines “underinvestment” is, of course, crucial, but by what measures we have it is tough to see anything like major underfunding. For one thing, we spend <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">more per‐​pupil on elementary and secondary</a> education than almost any other industrialized nation. Moreover, as the graph below shows, while there was a&nbsp;decrease in inflation‐​adjusted spending as a&nbsp;result of the Great Recession, it came after decades of almost unremitting spending increases, and we are almost back at record levels. What has <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">been stagnant</a> , at least since the late 1980s, is average teacher salaries, but that is because the money has been spent elsewhere, especially <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">on other staff</a>.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption"> <div class="figure__media"> <img width="700" height="507" alt="McCluskey-image-1-8-2020.jpg" class="lozad component-image" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Bernie Sanders is right that NCLB‐​style reform—blunt, top‐​down control—is no way to run an education system. But he is wrong to attack the opposite of such reform: school choice, which empowers diverse families and educators alike to seek out and provide education as&nbsp;<em>they</em>see fit.</p> </div> Wed, 08 Jan 2020 10:18:26 -0500 Neal McCluskey Washington Post Still Hasn’t Corrected an Obvious Education Blunder Corey A. DeAngelis <div class="lead text-default"> <p>The dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education claimed in a&nbsp;December 10&nbsp;<em>Washington Post</em>&nbsp;op‐​ed that “<a href="" target="_blank">public funding for schools has actually&nbsp;<em>decreased</em>&nbsp;since the late 1980s, adjusting for constant dollars</a>.” However,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">data</a>&nbsp;from the National Center of Education Statistics shows that real per‐​pupil spending clearly has not decreased since the 1980s. In fact, inflation‐​adjusted, per‐​pupil spending has actually&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">increased</a>&nbsp;over the last three decades.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Robert Pianta’s claim is incorrect regardless of how the data is sliced. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">database</a>, inflation‐​adjusted education funding increased by at least 36% since 1989 — whether you look at state, local, federal, or total dollars per pupil. The increases are much larger if you look at overall spending amounts rather than per‐​pupil totals.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Inflation‐​adjusted, per‐​pupil education spending has increased by at least 36% since the 1980s.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The subheadline of Pianta’s&nbsp;<em>Washington Post</em>&nbsp;column alleges, “the one thing we haven’t tried in the past 30&nbsp;years is sufficiently investing in our schools.” In addition to being incorrect, it is also not clear what spending level would qualify as “sufficient” to Pianta. After all, the nationwide&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">data</a>&nbsp;shows the U.S. already spends over $14,700 per student each year.</p> <p>How much does each state allocate toward education? The&nbsp;<em>Washington Examiner</em>’s Jason Russell previously&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">summarized</a>&nbsp;this information for each state using Census Bureau data from 2013. We now have more recent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">data</a>&nbsp;from 2017 showing that about 28% of all state budget expenditures go toward education.</p> <p>This statistic has remained relatively steady over time. Census Bureau data from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">1993</a>, the oldest period of data available, also indicates that about 28% of state government expenditures went toward education across the country.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption"> <div class="figure__media"> <img width="700" height="484" alt="ess-corey-de.jpg" class="lozad component-image" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The 2017 education spending&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">data</a>,&nbsp;the most recent complete data available, indicates that Vermont (35%), Texas (34%), New Jersey (33%), Georgia (33%), and Connecticut (33%) allocate the biggest proportions of their budgets toward education. Washington, D.C. (17%), Hawaii (20%), Alaska (22%), California (23%), and Florida (24%) allocate the smallest proportions of their budgets toward education. However, Washington’s place at the bottom of the list in terms of education spending as a&nbsp;percentage of its budget is deceiving due to D.C.‘s unique budget situation. The federal district notably spends&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">over</a>&nbsp;$28,000 per child each year, which is almost double the national average.</p> <p>There’s plenty of room for disagreements about education policy, and there are reasonable arguments to be made regarding the optimal level of education funding and the best type of system to facilitate education spending. But we should all be able to agree on basic verifiable numbers.</p> <p>Let’s vigorously debate how to improve schools and student outcomes. But let’s be factual: Inflation‐​adjusted, per‐​pupil education spending has increased by at least 36% since the 1980s.</p> </div> Wed, 18 Dec 2019 09:08:55 -0500 Corey A. DeAngelis First Look at Latest National Test Scores: Is It Cultural? Neal McCluskey <p>The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress—the “Nation’s Report Card”—scores <a href="">are out</a>, and they aren’t encouraging. But how discouraged should we be?</p> <p>The main NAEP tracks national, state, and selected local scores back to the early 1990s, though there have been some changes that have affected comparability among years, and not all states have participated every year. As you can see below, this year saw average scores drop in 4<sup>th</sup> and 8<sup>th</sup> grade reading, and 8<sup>th</sup> grade math, since 2017, but rise a tad in 4<sup>th</sup> grade math. Over the years, math has seen much more encouraging growth than reading.</p> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="773e37f4-f033-4985-866c-c45777482c12" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <p><img srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" width="700" height="252" src="" alt="2019 NAEP reading scores" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="8ad8cf27-5a0b-41e9-b95d-3e68b69c8d96" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <p><img srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" width="700" height="249" src="" alt="2019 NAEP math scores" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p>How about subgroups? Here, too, the <a href="">latest</a> <a href="">scores</a> have mainly dipped with the exception of 4<sup>th</sup> grade math, including for African‐​American, low‐​income, and Catholic school kids.</p> <p>How worried should we be, and what’s to blame? The latter question is difficult to answer from broad data, and I haven’t had the chance to delve into more detail yet. But it is possible that students are still recovering from the Great Recession, schools are still recovering, the post No Child Left Behind Act era has de‐​emphasized standardized testing, the Common Core has set us back, and more.</p> <p>My guess is that the de‐​emphasis on standardized testing is a big factor, and that may be just fine: The United States has never had a culture geared toward standardized testing or even high academic achievement relative to many <a href="">other nations</a>, and we have done pretty well by embracing creativity and individuality. We have also increasingly seen studies suggesting that higher test scores do not translate well into the kinds of long‐​term life outcomes we want, including <a href="">college attendance</a> and <a href="">employment outcomes</a>.</p> <p>All things equal, of course, we don’t want to see achievement scores drop, especially when we spend <a href="">more per‐​pupil on K‑12 education</a> than almost any other country. But all things are not equal, and while we should certainly want to know why scores have dipped, we should not panic. All may not be so bad, and what should ultimately matter in a free society is that families can access the education that <em>they</em> think is best.</p> Wed, 30 Oct 2019 11:59:21 -0400 Neal McCluskey Hot Take: Elizabeth Warren’s K‑12 Education Plan Neal McCluskey <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="bfc5dded-4fd4-4c4b-902b-9ed99807c3ba" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <p><img srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" width="700" height="467" src="" alt="Elizabeth Warren speaks to Iowa AFL-CIO" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p>This morning, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released <a href="">her plan</a>, or at least its general contours, for K‑12 education. There are a few marginal positives in it, but for the most part, at least based on my first, quick reading, it is exactly what you’d expect: spend a lot and attack school choice. All this while ignoring the Constitution, which simply <a href="">does not authorize</a> the vast majority of what Warren wants to do.</p> <p><strong>The Decent Stuff</strong></p> <p>Foremost among the decent things, Warren’s plan <strong>opposes high‐​stakes testing</strong>. Holding schools “accountable” using standardized tests has been central to federal policy since the advent of No Child Left Behind in 2002, peaking with the Common Core around 2011. It took a hit with the reauthorization of No Child—renamed the <a href="">Every Student Succeeds Act</a>—which reduced how many schools stand to be punished for poor scores. But uniform standards and testing at the state‐​level are still mandated by federal law, and it appears Warren would end that.</p> <p>Alas, even this good thing is accompanied by a fair amount of bad, as the plan sounds like it would not only end federal testing mandates, it would mandate that no high stakes tests be used. “As president, I’ll push to prohibit the use of standardized testing” for making any “high‐​stakes decisions,” sayeth the plan. So Warren would continue onerous federal control, only to impose her <em>anti</em>-testing view of how education should work.</p> <p>Warren would also end the <strong>Charter Schools Program</strong>, which spends about <a href="">$440 million annually</a> to help charter schools find and develop buildings, create new schools, etc. As we’ll see in a moment, this is almost certainly included because Warren thinks school choice has gone too far. But ending unconstitutional programs, which also give tuition‐​free charters another competitive <a href="">advantage over private schools</a>, is nonetheless the right thing to do.</p> <p>In addition to these things, Warren calls for <strong>decriminalizing truancy</strong>—it’s generally a good idea to avoid criminalizing everything—and also puts some emphasis on using <strong>magnet schools</strong> to promote school integration. That at least suggests she recognizes that sustainable integration <a href="">must be chosen</a>.</p> <p><strong>The Bad </strong></p> <p>The primary problem with the Warren plan—other than its root failure to obey the Constitution—is its promise of massive increases in federal spending, especially <strong>quadrupling funding under Title I</strong>, from about $16 billion per year to $61 billion. She would also use the lure of extra federal taxpayer funding to coax <strong>increased state taxpayer outlays</strong>, though I couldn’t find specific figures for what the matching ratios might be.</p> <p>In addition, she would increase federal <strong>spending for students with disabilities</strong> from <a href="">about $13 billion annually</a> to $33 billion. She would also create new “<strong>Excellence Grants</strong>” at $10 billion per year for districts to spend on programs they believe are important. Last but not least among the big ticket items, she would spend an additional $50 billion on <strong>school infrastructure</strong>. Assuming the last item would be over 10 years—the plan doesn’t say—all told, that’s about $80 billion in new funding per year, or $800 billion over a decade.</p> <p>A big problem is that there is <a href="">little evidence</a> that massive increases in federal spending will produce anything like commensurate improvements in outcomes. We also know that reports of crumbling schools are <a href="">greatly exaggerated</a>. And with a <a href="">$23 trillion national debt</a>, how will this all be paid for?</p> <p>Warren’s answer is a <strong>wealth tax</strong>. It’s a proposal that not only demonizes the wealthy and fuels division, but which will almost certainly fail to produce the revenue she needs for this and <a href="">many other plans</a>. Taxpayers who are targeted will likely find loopholes and take their wealth to other countries, just as <a href="">we’ve seen elsewhere</a>.</p> <p>The other Big Bad is the plan’s <strong>attack on school choice</strong>. Were Warren to propose having no federal funding for choice, that would be fine, though she should do the same for traditional public schooling. But she would go further. It appears that Warren would try to outright force charter schools to follow the same rules and regulations as traditional public schools, ignoring the whole idea of innovative schools freed of red tape in exchange for unique accountability plans and a need to attract students.</p> <p>She would also, apparently, fight to make sure <strong>only school districts</strong>—those with whom charters try to compete—<strong>could authorize charters</strong>. She would also work to <strong>ban for‐​profit charter schools</strong>, and would <strong>sic the IRS</strong> on nonprofits that politicos suspect are acting like for‐​profits. This despite studies suggesting charters tend to work pretty well, especially in <a href="">urban areas</a> and on a <a href="">cost‐​per‐​pupil basis</a>, and that management companies <a href="">can be beneficial</a>. And for many charters, just responding to taxpayer‐​funded IRS fishing expeditions could prove to be crippling administrative and legal burdens.</p> <p>At the same time Warren opposes choice that enables people to obtain education commensurate with their values and identities, she would put federal taxpayer money into curricula dealing with hot‐​button, values‐​laden topics as <strong>sex education</strong> and <strong>Native American history</strong>. This could easily inflame <a href="">zero‐​sum culture wars</a> and ensure the whole country is forced into combat.</p> <p>Finally, among the plan’s larger problems, Warren promises to “eliminate the ability of states to pass <strong>anti‐​union ‘right to work’ laws</strong>.” She would have no presidential authority to do that, and it would seem to be a direct challenge to the recent Supreme Court <em><a href="">Janus<span> </span></a></em><a href=""><span>decision</span></a>, which prohibited forced payment of non‐​member “agency fees.” Forced unionization would be an even greater violation of freedom of association and speech.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>What’s in the Warren K‑12 plan is not surprising. But it is still concerning.</p> Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:16:39 -0400 Neal McCluskey The College More of the Same Act Neal McCluskey <p><span>If you were expecting big steps forward on the Higher Education Act from the House Committee on Education and Labor, prepare to be disappointed. Yesterday, the Democratic majority released the <a href="">College Affordability Act</a>—which for some reason says “Est. 2019”—and it delivers pretty much what we’ve seen established since about 1969: A general conviction that what higher ed mainly needs is more government money…and no openly for‐​profit schools.</span></p> <p><span>The centerpieces of the bill are federal funds to encourage states to make community colleges free, increases in Pell Grants, cheaper student loans, and cracking down “on predatory for‐​profit colleges.” Let’s look at each of these very briefly.</span></p> <p><em><strong><span>Free Community College</span></strong></em></p> <p><span>The nearly <a href="">1,200 page bill</a>, which committee staffers estimate would <a href="">cost about $400 billion over 10 years</a>, would offer funds to states that agreed to make their community colleges tuition‐​and‐​fee free while at least holding steady other higher ed funding. The bill sets up quickly escalating appropriations for this starting at about $1.6 billion in 2021, peaking at $16.3 billion in 2030.</span></p> <p><span>This is short of the free four‐​year college plans that some Democrats, especially on the <a href="">campaign</a> <a href="">trail</a>, are talking about, but it would nonetheless be a new federal effort to incentivize “free” college. But not only is the national debt <a href="">approaching $23 trillion</a>—where will the federal money come from?—states have <a href="">major budget constraints</a> of their own. Perhaps even more important, community college appears to be a poor investment, with the <a href="">National Student Clearinghouse</a> reporting that the share of students completing public 2‑year programs in 6 years is an anemic 39 percent.</span></p> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="533f2d7c-0269-446d-966a-fa81ec7e5dbf" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <p><img srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" width="700" height="371" src="" alt="Community college 6-year completion rate, National Student Clearinghouse" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p><em><strong><span>Increased Pell</span></strong></em></p> <p><span>There is little question that student <a href="">aid has enabled colleges to increase prices</a>—it’s <a href="">baked right into them</a>. Pell Grants are one band of a rainbow of aid sources, which also includes federal loans, work study, institutional grants, and more. This bill would increase the maximum Pell from $6,695 in 2021 to an estimated $8,305 by 2029. To put that in perspective, the average sticker price at a public four‐​year institution in the 2018–19 school year <a href="">was $10,230</a>. </span></p> <p><em><strong><span>Cheaper Student Loans</span></strong></em></p> <p><span>This bill would also goose student loans by providing more generous terms; exempting from repayment in income‐​based plans income under 250 percent of the poverty line (it is <a href="">currently 150 percent</a>); eliminating loan origination fees; and more. We need less generous aid in order to slow artificially fueled price inflation, as well as incredibly wasteful consumption—yes, <a href="">waterparks</a>, but also <a href="">non‐​learning</a>—and this does the opposite.</span></p> <p><em><strong><span>For‐​profit Colleges</span></strong></em></p> <p><span>Colleges run explicitly for profit—almost all institutions <a href="">actually seek it</a>—have long been an outsized target of politicians. This bill keeps it up by reinforcing “gainful employment” rules targeted at for‐​profit schools, despite the fact that most people who go to any college do so to <a href="">get a job</a>, and enrollment at for‐​profits has been roughly <a href="">halved</a> since 2010. It also goes after the “90–10” rule, which requires a school to get no more than 90 percent of its revenue via federal student aid but currently exempts the G.I. Bill. 90 percent is, of course, a lot of revenue to come via taxpayers, but for context one needs to remember that for‐​profit colleges do not get <a href="">big direct subsidies</a> like public institutions, or tax‐​favored donations like publics and private, non‐​profits. Oh, and unlike those other sectors, for‐​profits pay taxes. </span></p> <p><span>This is in no way to suggest that admittedly for‐​profit higher education works well—<a href="">it does not</a>—but the whole, massively subsidized system is broken. Unfortunately, this bill would only make matters worse.</span></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:54:36 -0400 Neal McCluskey Parents Know Better Than Standardized Tests Jason Bedrick, Corey A. DeAngelis <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Thanks to private‐​school choice—vouchers, tax‐​credit scholarships and education savings accounts—this year nearly half a&nbsp;million children in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia will attend schools their parents selected.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Critics of school choice often argue that low‐​income families lack the knowledge or ability to choose meaningfully between schools. Worrying that parents will be taken advantage of or make poor decisions, they oppose choice programs or favor onerous testing requirements to prove they are effective.</p> <p>New studies on school choice in Colombia and Barbados, however, suggest families know something that tests can’t detect. These two countries, with per capita incomes a&nbsp;quarter and a&nbsp;third of America’s, respectively, can teach us a&nbsp;lot about how the most economically disadvantaged families choose schools.</p> <p>Stanford’s Eric Bettinger and his research team found that students who won a&nbsp;lottery for a&nbsp;voucher in Colombia were 17% more likely to complete high school on time than students who lost the lottery. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">study</a>, released in July, used a&nbsp;method of random assignment to compare apples to apples. So it isn’t because of selection bias that lottery winners earned 8% more than lottery losers by the time they turned 33. It’s because their parents were allowed to choose schools that were better fits for their children.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>New school‐​choice studies show that even the least advantaged find superior schools for their kids.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The positive effects on earnings were even larger for female students (11%) and students who applied to vocational schools (17%). For a&nbsp;single educational intervention, these are substantial increases. The researchers conclude that vouchers “greatly increased [a low‐​income child’s] chance of transitioning to the middle class.”</p> <p>Likewise, a&nbsp;rigorous 2018&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;revised a&nbsp;few months ago found school choice boosted social mobility in Barbados. Researchers Diether Beuermann and Kirabo Jackson compared the outcomes of more than 7,000 students who had scored right above and below an arbitrary cutoff that Barbados used to determine whether they could enroll in their parents’ preferred school. The study found that attending schools chosen by parents improved student well‐​being significantly, based on an index of educational attainment, occupational rank, earnings and health.</p> <p>The results are mixed, however, when it comes to test scores. Two earlier evaluations of the same school‐​choice program in Colombia, published in the American Economic Review, found it increased test scores and educational attainment substantially. By contrast, the Barbados study found no effect of school choice on test scores, despite the long‐​run gains in real‐​life outcomes. This is the latest in a&nbsp;series of studies finding disconnects between effects on test scores and other outcomes—income, high‐​school graduation, college enrollment, college completion and more—for which tests are supposed to be a&nbsp;proxy.</p> <p>If test scores aren’t reflecting the long‐​run outcomes that we care about most, then our thinking needs to change. As the Barbados study concludes, “parents may be rational to prefer schools that have no short‐​run test‐​score impacts.”</p> <p>Parents see more than test scores. Several surveys of parents participating in school‐​choice programs find that instruction in religious values, morality and character is among the top reasons they select a&nbsp;given school. They want schools that teach their children how to be not only good students but good people. That means inculcating skills and behaviors such as impulse control, conscientiousness and grit—what used to be called “character education.” Unfortunately, character education is generally watered down or absent in traditional U.S. public schools.</p> <p>Character education may help explain why studies of school‐​choice programs find they reduce teenage pregnancy and crime. In Colombia, female voucher students were 18% less likely to give birth as a&nbsp;teenager, and males were 32% less likely to father a&nbsp;child by a&nbsp;teenage partner. In Barbados, teenage girls were 59% less likely to give birth. Likewise, a&nbsp;2019 study of Milwaukee’s voucher program found it reduced paternity suits by 38% and reduced convictions in drug‐​related crimes by 53% and property‐​damage crimes by 86%. Staying out of trouble and graduating from college don’t guarantee success in life, but they greatly increase the odds.</p> <p>As parents know, kids are more than test scores. The evidence suggests that even the least advantaged families tend to do a&nbsp;better job than standardized tests at identifying schools that produce the outcomes that matter. Parents know better than do the critics who doubt they can choose the right schools for their children.</p> </div> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 09:09:00 -0400 Jason Bedrick, Corey A. DeAngelis Does Class Size Matter? How, and at What Cost? Desire Kedagni, Kala Krishna, Rigissa Megalokonomou, Yingyan Zhao <div class="lead text-default"> <p>What determines student achievement? The usual approach is to think of achievement as the output of an educational production function. Inputs into this educational production function include teacher quality, class size, resources, peer effects (possibly positive spillover effects and negative disruption effects), and past achievement, since achievement builds on past knowledge.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Our research focuses on the effects of class size on achievement. This area has been widely studied in both labor economics and education. Somewhat surprisingly, the estimates are relatively mixed. Even though performance has been related to class size, there has been little attempt to allow for nonmonotonicities. A&nbsp;monotonic relationship between student achievement and class size is always increasing or decreasing. If the relationship is nonmonotonic, student achievement may increase or decrease at different class sizes. For example, it could be that increasing class size initially raises achievement (as students learn from each other as well as from the teacher) and then lowers achievement when congestion effects take over. We explicitly allow for such possibilities and argue that not allowing for nonmonotonicities could be why the literature has found mixed results.</p> <p>We use high‐​quality administrative data on Greece to first show that there does indeed seem to be a&nbsp;hump shape in the data. Following this, we estimate a&nbsp;relationship between class size and achievement while carefully dealing with issues of endogeneity of class size. We show that class size does matter and that the linear specification form used in past work may be why past results were mixed. After all, if we fit a&nbsp;linear regression when the true relationship is quadratic, we could get a&nbsp;positive, negative, or zero slope depending on the precise shape of the underlying true quadratic relationship. Our estimates suggest that the shape of this relationship is relatively flat in the relevant region—namely, the region close to the chosen class size. As a&nbsp;result, a&nbsp;marginal reduction in class size can have a&nbsp;small positive effect on achievement. Moreover, as the chosen class size, in the presence of adjustment costs, will exceed the class size at which achievement is maximized, a&nbsp;large reduction in class size could easily move achievement to the other side of the hump and have little or no effect on achievement. For these reasons, the effects of increases in class size vs. decreases can be asymmetric. All of this is consistent with what the literature has found — namely, that decreasing class size is a&nbsp;costly way of raising achievement.</p> <p>We further explore the data to look for evidence of quantile effects. We find that the hump shape is present across all quantiles — that is, for students of all abilities. The hump shape is, however, more pronounced for worse students.</p> <p>With the estimates of the effects of class size on achievement in hand, we are in a&nbsp;position to understand how class size is chosen. If the government cares about achievement andaddresses the costs of adding classes, its behavior — in relation to the number of classes it chooses as enrollment fluctuates — helps us estimate the costs involved. We use our estimates to assess hiring and firing and the marginal cost of adding a&nbsp;class. Our estimates here are in line with actual teacher salaries. Finally, in Greece, as in much of the rest of the world, teachers unions are a&nbsp;powerful force to be reckoned with. Their power is demonstrated not only by the wages they set but by their ability to fire teachers at will. We use our model to determine whether inflexibility, expressed in terms of unions creating high firing (and even hiring) costs, might be driving government class‐​size choices and the impact of this on student achievement. We find that unions, even if they raise costs and class size, have a&nbsp;small effect on achievement.</p> <p><strong>NOTE:</strong><br>This research brief is based on Desire Kedagni, Kala Krishna, Rigissa Megalokonomou, and Yingyan Zhao, “Does Class Size Matter? How, and at What Cost?,” NBER Working Paper no. 25736, April 2019, <a href="" target="_blank">http://​www​.nber​.org/​p​a​p​e​r​s​/​w​25736</a>.</p> </div> Wed, 07 Aug 2019 03:00:00 -0400 Desire Kedagni, Kala Krishna, Rigissa Megalokonomou, Yingyan Zhao Does Private Schooling Affect Noncognitive Skills? International Evidence Based on Test and Survey Effort on PISA Tue, 16 Jul 2019 15:12:00 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis Will 2020 Yield A Real Conversation about Educational Freedom? Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown <p>A Supreme Court challenge implicating state‐​level Blaine Amendments and Democrats’ revival of school busing as an issue could force a&nbsp;real conversation about educational freedom. Neal McCluskey comments.</p> Mon, 08 Jul 2019 17:34:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown Busing and Blaine: The Coming Clash in Education Neal McCluskey <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Towards the end of last week, there was big news about two basic, conflicting methods of delivering education, news that could herald the arrival of a&nbsp;crucial, clarifying debate about American education: Should families or government decide where children are educated? It is a&nbsp;debate, as long as it is conducted with magnanimity, that all should welcome, focusing on basic questions of justice for past wrongs, and how education in a&nbsp;free country should work.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Both of the major stories revolve around policies intimately connected to discrimination in American education. The first concerns “busing,” a&nbsp;term that captures policies, especially in the 1960s and ’70s, that assigned students, based on race, to schools outside of largely homogeneous neighborhoods to help overcome centuries of oppression and segregation of African Americans. The issue, after lying dormant for decades, was thrust into national headlines by last Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate. Sparking it was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">a&nbsp;contentious exchange</a>&nbsp;between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris over Biden’s opposition to federal busing proposals in the 1970s.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>In the next year, our national education debate may well revolve around two fundamentally different modes of education provision: government control and parental choice.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The second big story was the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear&nbsp;<em><a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue</a></em>, a&nbsp;case about a&nbsp;scholarship tax credit program invalidated by the Montana Supreme Court because it allowed parents to use scholarships, for which funders received tax credits, at religious schools. The Montana court decided that allowing students to access religious schools violated the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, often interpreted as a “wall” between church and state higher and thicker than the federal First Amendment. Such amendments had their genesis in long and deep sentiment against Roman Catholics, who sought public funding for their own schools because the public schools were often&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">de facto Protestant</a>, featuring readings from Protestant versions of the Bible and sometimes anti‐​Catholic content.</p> <p>Today, the concern is that Blaine amendments force government discrimination against&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;religion, allowing government to fund secular choices while rendering religious choices off limits.</p> <p>Both of these issues are about discrimination but in very different ways. Busing is about government bringing people together, after centuries of forced separation. Battling Blaine is about letting people be apart instead of coercing uniformity.</p> <p>They raise fundamental questions: What role should government play in bringing people together? Allowing separation? Making up for past injustice?</p> <p>While fundamental, these are also dangerous questions, conducive to demagogic attacks on people’s motives and attitudes: You hate religion! You are racist! You don’t care about injustice!</p> <p>If the compulsion‐​versus‐​choice debate is to be positive—not just another social‐​fabric‐​shredding battle for political supremacy—all must overcome the powerful urge to beat, rather than productively engage, their intellectual opponents. They must endeavor to understand others’ perspectives rather than hang loaded labels on them. They must listen more than talk, and consider viewpoints they may even find hurtful by contemplating how a&nbsp;rational, decent person might arrive at them.</p> <p>It can be done.</p> <p>I strongly support school choice, but it is impossible to know American history, including very recent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">history of discriminatory housing</a>, and not understand urgent calls for compelled integration. Children are suffering from its effects&nbsp;<em>today</em>, and busing essentially says we can’t wait any longer to ameliorate centuries of national sin. I&nbsp;am also Catholic, but&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">understand why people worried about Catholics</a>, especially the possible influence of the Catholic Church. The Church certainly had a&nbsp;track record of involving itself in countries’ political affairs.</p> <p>Of course, there are morally upright reasons to oppose busing and support school choice. Many families,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">African‐​American and white</a>, have opposed busing because they have not wanted their children traveling long distances to and from school, or they have valued&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">the community cohesion of neighborhood schooling</a>. Choice can be embraced by people who, directly related to Blaine, want their children&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">taught their religious values</a>, or not taught things&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">in opposition to them</a>, without having to pay twice for education. African‐​Americans may want the option of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">Afrocentric schools</a>&nbsp;or just schools where they are the majority and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">control what the schools teach</a>. And some people may simply prioritize the good of liberty over the good of racial integration.</p> <p>In the next year, our national education debate may well revolve around two fundamentally different modes of education provision: government control and parental choice. But just because the policies are starkly different doesn’t mean those taking one side must be good and the other evil. Good people, for fine reasons, can come out on both sides. If we want this coming debate to help rather than hurt us, we must treat each other accordingly.</p> </div> Mon, 01 Jul 2019 09:01:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey The Politics on the Ground over School Choice Dr. Steve Perry, Caleb O. Brown <p>As founder and head of schools of Capital Prep schools, Steve Perry knows how school choice works, and the bankrupt politics that inhibit educational freedom.</p> Tue, 30 Apr 2019 16:24:00 -0400 Dr. Steve Perry, Caleb O. Brown Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, Neal McCluskey, Patrick Moran <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Blaine Amendments — adopted by many states starting in the late 1800s as an anti‐​Catholic measure — prevent states from using public funding for religious education. Thirty‐​seven states currently have the amendments, and some courts have interpreted them excluding religious options from state school‐​choice programs — that is, preventing access to otherwise publicly available benefits purely on the basis of religion. In other words, Blaine Amendments let some states practice religious discrimination.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Montana created a&nbsp;program where people who donated to private‐​school funding organizations received tax credits. The program both encouraged school choice and allowed people to spend their own money how they saw fit. However, the Montana Department of Revenue used the state’s Blaine Amendment to exclude those donors whose money found its way to religious private schools, and, at the same time, it allowed non‐​religious private‐​school donors to benefit. During the ensuing legal challenge, the Montana Supreme Court not only ruled against the religious families that challenged the discrimination, it struck down the entire program, meaning both religious and non‐​religious donors wouldn’t receive tax credits.</p> <p>Our friends at the Institute for Justice have <a href="" target="_blank">petitioned</a> the United States Supreme Court to hear the case, and Cato has filed a&nbsp;brief in support. Both Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom and the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies have an interest in this case, so we teamed up to cover both the constitutional and policy angles of the issue. We argue that the Court should correct the Montana Supreme Court’s flawed reading of the First Amendment’s religion clauses and reaffirm that states cannot erode the Free Exercise Clause in the guise of strengthening the Establishment Clause. The Religion Clauses work together to help protect the freedom of conscience, not to prohibit school‐​choice programs that help both religious and non‐​religious schools.</p> <p>The First Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses prohibit laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As Cato explained in a&nbsp;<a href="">recent brief</a>, the two clauses work together to protect individual freedom of conscience. However, states like Montana often use the Establishment Clause to justify the existence of Blaine Amendments. They argue that Blaine Amendments are necessary to prevent “an establishment of religion” by strengthening the wall of separation between church and state. But in the modern world, where government is so involved in giving public benefits like tax credits, it is impossible to maintain a&nbsp;complete wall of separation without discriminating against religion (as Blaine Amendments do), which is not what the Framers intended. Instead, the government must remain neutral toward religion and not disfavor religious people or organizations. In this sense, the Establishment Clause is a&nbsp;shield protecting the people from state religion, not a&nbsp;sword enabling government to discriminate against religious faith.</p> <p>At the same time, school‐​choice programs help prevent the forced ideological conformity that is inevitable in public schools. Tax‐​credit programs like Montana’s allow parents to select schools that share their values, reducing the need to impose those values on others. In so doing, they improve our nation’s social and political cohesion and reduce conflict. Cato’s <a href="">Public Schooling Battle Map</a> tracks how public schools create conflict by forcing uniformity onto ideological diversity. Blaine Amendments merely fan the flames of the ideological conflicts that currently engulf public education.</p> <p>Despite all these considerations, the Montana Supreme Court declined to properly consider the First Amendment implications of the state’s Blaine Amendment. Instead, it gave the Montana Department of Revenue a&nbsp;slap on the wrist for exceeding its procedural authority and destroyed the entire tax credit program rather than contend with the unconstitutional discrimination inherent in Montana’s Blaine Amendment. As school choice becomes more popular around the country, the question of religious discrimination and Blaine Amendments will become more salient. The Montana decision was just the latest in a&nbsp;series of federal and state courts decisions that are divided on the issue. That divide will continue without guidance from the Supreme Court. The Court should take this case to clarify that the Constitution requires religious neutrality, not discrimination.</p> </div> Mon, 15 Apr 2019 16:10:00 -0400 Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, Neal McCluskey, Patrick Moran “School Choice for America’s Children” Is a Great Thing. Federal School Choice, as Ted Cruz Proposed, Is Not. Here’s Why Corey A. DeAngelis <div class="lead text-default"> <p>In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump mentioned that “<a href="">the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children</a>.” But it’s not entirely clear what he meant by that statement. He might have been simply using his bully pulpit to advocate for school choice in general — which would be great. But he could have also been referring to Texas Sen. <a href=";id=4297&amp;fbclid=IwAR3MgmyO2tvGjhvEJ_gKJNrkhT0esBhza-jUiB-7WQgWFr9c1tm2tx42fJo" target="_blank">Ted Cruz’s plan to launch a&nbsp;federal school choice program</a> — federal tax‐​credit scholarships to be used for private school tuition and fees — which would be a&nbsp;<em>yuge</em> mistake. Here’s why.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>“School choice for all” sounds pretty enticing to families in need of additional educational options, especially as access to private school choice programs has grown particularly slowly over time. Nearly three decades have passed since the oldest modern‐​day voucher program <a href="" target="_blank">launched in Milwaukee in 1990</a>. Today, while 54 private school choice programs exist in the U.S., <a href="">less than 1&nbsp;percent</a> of the school‐​aged population actually uses one. A&nbsp;federal program must also sound especially attractive to families in states with strong <a href="" target="_blank">Blaine amendments</a>, like Michigan, which make private school choice programs virtually impossible to enact without constitutional amendments.</p> <p>Federal school choice for families is like candy to children who are sheltered from sweets. They have been deprived of educational freedom for far too long. But school choice advocates must take a&nbsp;step back and think about what’s at risk — and whether the costs outweigh the benefits — before getting too excited.</p> <p>First and foremost, families cannot vote with their feet away from a&nbsp;federal program. This is because private schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia would be subject to the same regulations attached to the money coming from the federal school choice program. If you don’t like the school choice options in, say, California, you can move to Arizona. But that’s not the case with something like the U.S. Postal Service. And, of course, not all private school choice programs are created equal. The first random‐​assignment study in the world to find negative effects of a&nbsp;voucher program was in Louisiana, and <a href="" target="_blank">the negative effects were large</a>. Children who won the lottery to attend a&nbsp;private school in Louisiana scored 27 percentile points lower in math and 17 percentile points lower in reading than their peers in public schools after one year.</p> <p>What happened in Louisiana? Education scholars can use empirical evidence to try to answer this question, because states are laboratories of democracy.</p> <p>As I&nbsp;have argued, <a href="" target="_blank">burdensome regulations in Louisiana might be to blame</a>. Private schools that participate in the Louisiana program must accept students on a&nbsp;random basis, are required to administer the state standardized test, must maintain a “quality” curriculum and must accept the voucher amount as full payment. Perhaps because of the heavy regulatory burden, <a href="" target="_blank">only about a&nbsp;third</a> of the private schools in Louisiana chose to participate in their program in the first year, whereas over double that proportion tend to participate in less‐​regulated programs in other states.</p> <p>But low private school participation rates are only half the problem. Studies have also found that the Louisiana program was <a href="" target="_blank">more likely to draw</a>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">lower‐​quality private schools</a>, perhaps because they are the most desperate for cash. That means lower‐​quality options for families using vouchers.</p> <p>Families in Louisiana at least have the option to move to states like Florida if they would like to gain access to better school choice programs. But, unfortunately, moving doesn’t allow families to escape federal programs. After all, private schools in Florida that elect to participate in the federal school choice program would be subject to the same regulations as the participating private schools in Louisiana.</p> <p>Of course, the <a href=";id=4297&amp;fbclid=IwAR3MgmyO2tvGjhvEJ_gKJNrkhT0esBhza-jUiB-7WQgWFr9c1tm2tx42fJo" target="_blank">federal program one proposed by Cruz</a> wouldn’t be the worst possible scenario. He plans to introduce a&nbsp;federal tax‐​credit scholarship program, which is one of the best ways to get a&nbsp;school choice program without too many burdensome regulations. Privately funded tax‐​credit scholarship programs are <a href="" target="_blank">less likely to be regulated</a> than publicly funded voucher programs.</p> <p>But privately funded school choice programs can still face significant government regulation. For example, private schools in Florida that accept funding from its <a href="" target="_blank">privately funded tax‐​credit scholarship program must be</a> approved by the state, must receive a “satisfactory” inspection by the Florida Department of Education, are required to administer standardized tests and must have teachers that are qualified based on having a&nbsp;bachelor’s degree, three years of teaching experience or “special expertise.”</p> <p>And even if Cruz’s proposed program initially came with light regulations, that doesn’t mean things would stay that way. A&nbsp;lightly regulated federal school choice program under Trump today could easily turn into a&nbsp;heavily regulated program under someone like Bernie Sanders tomorrow.</p> <p>I’m not too concerned, however, because <a href="" target="_blank">we have a&nbsp;split Congress</a>. If Cruz introduces a&nbsp;federal school choice bill, it will be likely stopped in the House — if not in the Senate.</p> </div> Wed, 06 Feb 2019 17:56:00 -0500 Corey A. DeAngelis Neal McCluskey discusses education issues on WIBA’s The Vicki McKenna Show Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:09:00 -0500 Neal McCluskey Charter School Funding: (More) Inequity in the City Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:48:00 -0500 Corey A. DeAngelis The Labor Market for Teachers under Different Pay Schemes Barbara Biasi <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Teachers are one of the most important inputs in the production of student achievement, and their impact persists throughout adulthood. Attracting and retaining high‐​quality teachers to the profession is thus a&nbsp;policy issue of highest importance. More attractive compensation packages are often proposed as a&nbsp;possible tool to achieve this goal. In most U.S. public school districts, however, teacher pay is set using rigid schedules based solely on seniority and education, with no financial rewards for effectiveness in the classroom. If allowed to set pay in a&nbsp;more flexible way, could school districts improve the quality of the teaching workforce? My research addresses this question by taking advantage of a&nbsp;reform to the collective‐​bargaining process for teachers in Wisconsin.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Understanding teacher supply and demand is key for the design of a number of education policies, including school finance equalization, school accountability, teacher training, and, most importantly, teacher selection. In spite of this, empirical studies of this labor market are usually challenging to perform due to a dearth in variation in pay practices among public school districts. The vast majority of districts pay teachers according to similar lockstep schedules. Under this regime all teachers with the same education degree and years of experience are paid exactly the same amount regardless of their effectiveness, their skills, or the demand for their labor. These schedules are often very similar across all districts within a state, owing to pattern bargaining facilitated by the state’s teachers’ union. With salaries set in this rigid way, identifying labor supply and demand is very difficult.</p> <p>I exploit a rare source of variation in teacher pay in order to study the market for public school teachers. In 2011, the Wisconsin legislature passed Act 10, a law that discontinued collective bargaining over teachers’ salary schedules and limited negotiations to base pay. Before the passage of Act 10, Wisconsin had been a state with strict adherence to lockstep schedules, which were negotiated between each school district and its teachers’ union. Act 10 gave districts full autonomy to unilaterally decide on compensation and allowed them to negotiate salaries with individual teachers using any criteria the two sides deemed useful.</p> <section role="article" about="/node/308551" class="node node-type-embed-promo"><header><h2><span>RELATED EVENT</span> </h2> </header><div class="promo_content"> <h1> <span class="hs-cta-wrapper" id="hs-cta-wrapper-bcbb0547-af0d-4fbf-a895-9f8869c4110f"><span class="hs-cta-node hs-cta-bcbb0547-af0d-4fbf-a895-9f8869c4110f" id="hs-cta-bcbb0547-af0d-4fbf-a895-9f8869c4110f"><a href="" target="_blank"> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a201e0bb-cfa7-4347-90ae-bfcdf1595074" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="340" height="19" alt="Sphere Summit: Teaching Civic Culture Together" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> </a></span> //--&gt; //--&gt; //--&gt; //--&gt; <p></p></span> </h1> <p>Join middle and high school teachers and administrators from across the country and leading scholars, policy experts and thought leaders this summer seminar at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. this July 14–18, 2019. </p></div> <footer><div> <span class="hs-cta-wrapper" id="hs-cta-wrapper-be1734cc-54fd-49a1-ba62-2136c544a8c4"><span class="hs-cta-node hs-cta-be1734cc-54fd-49a1-ba62-2136c544a8c4" id="hs-cta-be1734cc-54fd-49a1-ba62-2136c544a8c4"><a href="" target="_blank"> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="79d0e72a-7f01-4a04-a828-988faead7f85" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="257" height="19" alt="Apply for a Full Scholarship to Attend" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> </a></span> //--&gt; //--&gt; //--&gt; //--&gt; <p></p></span> </div> </footer></section><p>Districts used the flexibility introduced by Act 10 in different ways. I begin by documenting cross‐​district differences in pay schemes in the aftermath of the reform. I then study the effects of these changes on teachers’ movements across districts and exits from the labor market, as well as on the composition of the teaching workforce. I also investigate the effects that changes in teacher salaries have on their effort. Lastly, I use the post–Act 10 variation in salaries across districts, together with teachers’ movements and exits, to estimate a structural model of the teachers’ labor market. This model helps explain how teachers value different job attributes and how districts value different teacher characteristics. In addition, the model allows me to study the effects of alternative salary schemes on the composition of the teaching workforce.</p> <p>To investigate how districts used their autonomy, I collected information on post–Act 10 pay schemes from employee handbooks, which list district‐​specific workplace policies and procedures. This information indicates that approximately half the districts took advantage of their newfound discretion and replaced seniority‐​based schedules with flexible salary schemes, which allowed for pay differences among teachers with similar seniority. I refer to these districts as flexible pay (FP). The other half, which I refer to as seniority pay (SP), continued to calculate salaries using their pre–Act 10 schedules.</p> <p>Act 10 triggered significant differences in salaries among teachers in FP districts who would have been paid exactly the same amount under the pre–Act 10 regime. Individual‐​level salary information, combined with student‐​level test scores, reveals that salaries rose more for teachers with higher value‐​added (defined as an individual teacher’s contribution to achievement growth). This is an important finding in itself: school districts do not calculate value‐​added nor do they explicitly use it to evaluate teachers, yet they choose to reward it when given the chance.</p> <p>The differences in teacher salaries that arose among Wisconsin districts after the passage of Act 10 could change teachers’ incentives to work in a given district, and in turn affect each district’s workforce composition. A simple model predicts that high value‐​added teachers would flow from SP to FP districts, and low value‐​added teachers would flow in the opposite direction or exit teaching altogether. I test these predictions by comparing movements and exits of high‐​and low value‐​added teachers in FP and SP districts before and after Act 10.</p> <p>Interpreting the results of an FP-SP districts comparison as the causal effect of changes in pay requires assuming that the two groups would have been comparable in the absence of Act 10. Post–Act 10 pay schemes, however, were not randomly determined across districts, but rather chosen by district administrators. This assumption could therefore be violated if this choice were correlated with teachers’ labor supply decisions. In addition, Act 10 introduced other changes in public‐​sector employment, such as increases in employee contributions to pensions and health care. Albeit uniform across districts and unrelated to pay, these changes may have triggered district‐​specific shocks that confound the effects of changes in pay. As a piece of evidence in favor of my assumptions, I first show that the two groups of districts are observationally similar ex ante and that the choice of pay schemes does not appear to be driven by factors that could directly affect teachers. Second, I control for an array of district observables related to the (possibly) different district‐​level responses to other provisions of the Act in all my specifications.</p> <p>I also show that FP and SP districts were on similar trends before Act 10 with respect to all outcome variables. Lastly, I complement results on the full sample of FP and SP districts with findings based on a matched sample of FP and SP districts, which is based on pre–Act 10 observables.</p> <p>Comparing movements and exits of high‐ and low value‐​added teachers in FP and SP districts before and after Act 10 indicates that, after Act 10, teachers with ex ante higher value‐​added (measured using pre–Act 10 test scores) were 1.13 times more likely to move from SP to FP districts compared with lower value‐​added teachers and 44 percent less likely to exit. These movements and exits produced a 0.05– 0.07 standard deviations increase in average teacher quality in FP relative to SP districts. These results confirm the predictions of the model and indicate that the teachers’ labor market appears to function like other labor markets. They also demonstrate — partly in contrast with previous studies — that higher pay does attract teachers.</p> <p>The introduction of a pay scheme that rewards workers’ effectiveness could impact not only the composition of the teaching workforce, but also teachers’ efforts. To test this hypothesis, I allow value‐​added to vary before and after Act 10 for each teacher, and I estimate the FP-SP difference in this time‐​varying measure after Act 10 compared with before. I find that, overall, value‐​added increased by 0.11 standard deviations in FP districts relative to SP. Approximately 54 percent of this increase is due to changes in teachers’ efforts, whereas the remaining 46 percent is due to changes in workforce composition.</p> <p>My findings show that the introduction of flexible salaries in a subset of Wisconsin districts led to an improvement, albeit small, in the composition of the teaching workforce in these districts compared with the rest of the state. Since movements and exits are rare events, this compositional change could become more pronounced over time as more low‐​quality teachers exit FP and more high‐​quality teachers get hired. This, however, assumes that SP districts stick with seniority pay in the medium and long run. What would happen if the same pay scheme were introduced in all districts instead? The sorting and exiting patterns outlined so far are the combination of both demand and supply forces; it is therefore difficult to answer this question by simply extrapolating from these partial‐​equilibrium results.</p> <p>To address the limitations of a reduced‐​form approach, I build and estimate a structural model of the teachers’ labor market. Simulations show that the introduction of quality pay in all districts is associated with a much smaller increase in workforce quality compared with an increase in quality pay in one district: When all districts reward seniority at the same rate, teachers have lower incentives to move across districts, and any compositional improvement is entirely driven by exits of low‐​quality teachers.</p> <p>This exercise helps us understand what would happen if all districts switched to flexible pay, a scenario that could arise as districts start competing with each other for the best teachers. It also shows that the observed improvement in the composition of the teaching workforce and the increase in effort experienced by FP districts might be shortlived, resulting in smaller long‐​term effects of a statewide change in pay schemes.</p> <p>A caveat applies to these conclusions: The model does not explicitly account for workers’ decisions to enter the teaching profession and implicitly assumes that the quality of new teachers is constant over time and unaffected by the Act. In the medium run, a change in teacher pay could fundamentally alter the selection of new teachers in FP and SP districts in ways that could differ from the sorting patterns observed for incumbent teachers. A simple analysis of the selectivity of college degrees for new teachers (as a proxy for teaching quality) does not show evidence of changes in the composition of new teachers after 2011. A full‐​blown analysis of the effects of Act 10 on this margin, however, is left to future research.</p> <p><strong>Note:</strong><br />This research brief is based on Barbara Biasi, “The Labor Market for Teachers under Different Pay Schemes,” NBER Working Paper no. 24813, July 2018, <a href="">http://​www​.nber​.org/​p​a​p​e​r​s​/​w​24813</a>.</p> </div> Wed, 28 Nov 2018 03:00:00 -0500 Barbara Biasi Divergences between Effects on Test Scores and Effects on Non‐​Cognitive Skills Tue, 23 Oct 2018 15:47:00 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis Common Core Doesn’t Seem to Be Working; That May Be Just Fine Neal McCluskey <div class="lead text-default"> <p>This week the latest in what have been a&nbsp;series of disappointing standardized test reports came out. This time it was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">ACT scores for high school seniors</a>&nbsp;who graduated in 2018. The average composite score, and scores in all subject areas, fell from 2017, and were the same or lower than in 2014. This follows dropping scores on the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">National Assessment of Educational Progress</a>&nbsp;since 2013 and continued mediocrity on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">international exams</a>. Which makes one wonder: What good has come from the Common Core curriculum standards, which were apparently so promising that supporters&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">used the federal government to coerce their installation</a>?</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The answer is no good, at least discernible through test scores. It is impossible to conclusively lay the blame for testing futility on the Core—myriad variables ranging from student motivation to the national economy can matter—but we certainly haven’t seen major improvements several years after the Core&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">was expected to be implemented</a>.</p> <p>Part of the problem could be that Core implementation&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">became a&nbsp;shambles</a>&nbsp;as people vociferously objected to it in the midst of installation. Much of the culpability for that belongs with Core advocates themselves, who used Washington to coerce adoption before the standards had even been completed, much less widely and publicly debated, using a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">relatively small bit&nbsp;</a>of the gargantuan anti‐​Great Recession “stimulus.” Never letting a&nbsp;good crisis go to waste resulted in the public not finding out about the Core until suddenly they and their school districts were confronted with the need to conform their curricula to standards they had never heard of, and that sometimes&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">did not seem to make much sense</a>.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>What good has come from the Common Core curriculum standards, which were apparently so promising that supporters used the federal government to coerce their installation?</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>But bad implementation is hardly the only reason—if it is a&nbsp;reason at all—that the Core seems to have been impotent. As Theodor Rebarber and I&nbsp;discuss in a&nbsp;new Pioneer Institute paper—<em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards‐​Based Reform</a></em>—the Core’s content may be unable to deliver on its promises. It is not well benchmarked to the standards of top‐​performing countries, promises notwithstanding, and is pedagogically questionable, focusing, for instance, more on talking about mathematical reasoning and less on actual computation.</p> <p>My guess is that the Core’s content may indeed be part of the problem. But much more is going on. Foremost, despite decades of reforms focused on standards and tests, Americans&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">aren’t nearly as geared toward academic achievement</a>, especially, perhaps, as measured by standardized tests, as people in other countries. And that may be just fine. While our scores languish,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">emerging research</a> suggests that they may be poor predictors of future success. Meanwhile, countries that dominate international exams are often&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">searching for ways</a>&nbsp;to enhance attributes possibly crucial to economic growth that are not easily captured on standardized exams—that may even be antithetical to them—such as creative thinking. Those are attributes that America’s relatively free‐​wheeling, entrepreneurial culture&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">definitely has</a>.</p> <p>The system of education best suited to a&nbsp;dynamic, innovative society is a&nbsp;decentralized one, grounded in autonomous educators and freely choosing families. Embracing freedom is how we enable new ideas, and different and innovative ways of thinking, to be developed and nurtured while minimizing the risk of pathbreaking notions that turn out to be wrong inflicting harm on large swaths of children. It is also a&nbsp;system, Core fans, that would allow educators committed to the Core to faithfully implement it with families also committed to it, rather than trying to impose it on everyone and seeing it hobbled by non‐​believers.</p> <p>Alas, as Rebarber and I&nbsp;explain in the paper, nationalized standards are a&nbsp;huge threat to such a&nbsp;system, even to private schools with no connection to government. If all public schools—roughly&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">90 percent of the K‑12 market</a>—are forced onto one standard, textbook publishers and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">test makers</a>&nbsp;will move onto that standard, kneecapping the ability of private schools to find something different. More directly, voucher programs—but largely&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;scholarship tax-credits—often impose testing mandates on participating schools.</p> <p>Thankfully, the Core War may not have been in vain. While the degree to which states have moved off the Core, and how much Washington loosened the reins with the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:">Every Student Succeeds Act</a>, are contentious, there is little question that scads of policymakers have felt the need to at least appear to move away from standards‐​and‐​testing, and the Core itself. Indeed, that the education system is less fixated on raising test scores might be a&nbsp;reason the scores have dropped. And that’s not necessarily a&nbsp;bad thing.</p> </div> Thu, 18 Oct 2018 08:34:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey Study Finds Declining Student Achievement and Increased Harm to School Choice Since Common Core Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:36:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey Study Finds Declining Student Achievement, Increased Harm to School Choice Since Common Core Neal McCluskey, Theodor Rebarber, Patrick J. Wolf <div class="lead text-default"> <p>While U.S. academic performance has declined since the broad implementation of Common Core, school choice programs are increasingly hamstrung by regulations that require private schools to adopt a&nbsp;single curriculum standards‐​based test as a&nbsp;condition for receiving public money, according to a&nbsp;new study published by Pioneer Institute.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>“When states mandate a&nbsp;particular curriculum standards‐​based test, private schools are essentially required to adopt the curriculum content and pedagogy on which the test is based if they want to increase the probability that that their students are successful,” said Theodor Rebarber, chief executive officer of AccountabilityWorks and co‐​author of a&nbsp;report titled, “Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards‐​Based Reform.”</p> <p>Nearly two‐​thirds of U.S. tuition grant (“voucher”) programs require schools to administer a&nbsp;single curriculum‐​based test, typically a&nbsp;Common Core‐​aligned test, in order to receive public money. Tax credits are less susceptible to government mandates than voucher programs are.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Congress should eliminate the mandate that every state impose a&nbsp;single statewide set of curriculum standards and allow states to experiment with diverse approaches to accountability.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Under tax credit programs, parents paying tuition or others that donate money receive a&nbsp;tax credit. The authors find that in 95 percent of cases, these programs are not subject to curriculum‐​based testing mandates.</p> <p>Common Core is the logical endpoint of nearly three decades of congressionally mandated centralization through “standards‐​based reform” that has moved key curriculum content, sequencing and pedagogical decisions away from local school systems and educators to the state and national levels.</p> <p>Instead of the promised accountability for results or informed school choice, the outcome at the local level has been a&nbsp;culture of compliance (“alignment”) that has intruded into the core function of curriculum and teaching.</p> <p>“With its near‐​monopoly status distorting the textbook and other instructional materials markets,” said Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, who co‐​authored the study, “Common Core blunts the innovation, dynamism and competition that is the heart of the school choice movement,” with&nbsp;Rebarber.</p> <p>The authors find that after several decades of only incremental test score improvements, which started prior to federal requirements for curriculum centralization, since Common Core was implemented in 45 states and Washington, D.C., student results are showing the first significant declines in achievement, especially for students who were already behind.</p> <p>Fourth‐ and eighth‐​grade math scores were down overall on the 2015 and 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The declines among lower‐​performing students (bottom quartile) were even steeper. Fourth‐ and eighth‐​grade reading scores were flat, with declines among lower‐​performing students. At the same time, the United States is no closer to the internationally competitive performance in math and science observed in top‐​tier developed nations.</p> <p>Instead of accelerating the curriculum to more advanced topics and following the practices of leading international competitors, Common Core’s politically‐​driven process resulted in the adoption of the mediocre curriculum sequences used in a&nbsp;number of mid‐​performing states and promoted progressive instructional dogmas shared by its developers.</p> <p>The authors do not recommend the adoption of a&nbsp;different set of national curriculum standards; rather they propose reducing federal mandates and permitting broader state experimentation.</p> <p>At the state level, the authors identify two possible avenues for reform of public schools. The first is for states to emulate the pre‐​Common Core Massachusetts model, under which the state engaged a&nbsp;team of visionary curriculum standards drafters to develop clear and ambitious academic goals approximating the highest quality public and private schools.</p> <p>The reality, however, is that most states have not been successful in implementing this model and even Massachusetts in recent years has moved away from this approach in favor of the flawed Common Core.</p> <p>“The second possibility is to re‐​conceptualize standards‐​based reform and accountability,” says co‐​author Rebarber. “We must shift standards‐​based reforms away from government central planners in order to disrupt the status quo and leverage innovative, ambitious curricula.”</p> <p>Instead of the current federal mandate requiring that each state adopt a&nbsp;single, homogeneous set of curricular standards and test‐​driven instruction, states could be permitted to allow local districts, vocational‐​technical, and charter public schools to use the curriculum that best fits their needs and select from a&nbsp;variety of state‐​vetted assessments the ones that most closely align to the local curriculum.</p> <p>Rebarber explains that “it would mean the end of the current misguided model of the national or state testing tail wagging the local curriculum dog, which parents oppose. The result would be a&nbsp;surge in investment at the national and local levels in far more diverse curricular and pedagogical models that do not conform to politically‐​established, lowest common denominator government curriculum standards.”</p> <p>To empower states interested in such reforms, when the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act is next reauthorized, scheduled to occur in two years, the authors recommend that Congress eliminate the mandate that every state impose a&nbsp;single statewide set of curriculum standards and allow states to experiment with diverse approaches to accountability.</p> <p>In a&nbsp;foreword to the study, University of Arkansas Distinguished Professor of Education Policy Patrick J. Wolf likens Common Core to “scientific management,” which is defined by standardization and command and control, and school choice to “liberation management,” which is marked by decentralization, choice and competition.</p> <p>“Diversity has long been a&nbsp;hallmark of these United States, especially in the area of education,” Professor Wolf writes. “At its essence, this fine report gives us good reasons, at least in K‑12 education, to favor more&nbsp;<em>pluribus</em> and less&nbsp;<em>unum.”</em></p> </div> Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:20:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey, Theodor Rebarber, Patrick J. Wolf Banned Books Week and Conflicts of Values Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown <p>The fight over banning books from school libraries is only worsened by the public school establishment. Neal McCluskey comments.</p> Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:35:00 -0400 Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown Who Participates? An Analysis of School Participation Decisions in Two Voucher Programs in the United States Corey A. DeAngelis, Blake Hoarty <div class="lead text-default"> <p>The expansion of private school choice programs has been accompanied by a&nbsp;growing call for regulation of those programs. Individual private schools decide whether to participate in voucher programs based on expected benefits (additional voucher revenues) and expected costs (additional red tape). An unintended consequence of attaching heavy government regulation to voucher programs is that it raises the costs of participation, which could reduce the number of private schools available to the children who need them the most. Moreover, we hypothesize that lower‐​quality schools are more likely to participate in regulated voucher programs because they are the most desperate for additional enrollment and funding.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>We use probit regression analysis to examine the quality of schools that elected to participate in voucher programs in Ohio and Milwaukee. Using tuition and enrollment levels—proxies for price and quantity demanded — we find evidence suggesting that lower‐​quality schools are more likely to participate in voucher programs. Specifically, a $1,000 increase in tuition is associated with 3&nbsp;percent lower likelihood of participation in the Milwaukee voucher program and a&nbsp;3.8 percent lower likelihood of participation in the Ohio Educational Choice voucher program. We also find that a&nbsp;one‐​point increase in a&nbsp;GreatSchools review score is associated with a&nbsp;14.8 percent reduction in the likelihood of voucher program participation in Milwaukee. (GreatSchools is an online nonprofit that provides educational information and reviews for private, public, and charter schools.) Ironically, while regulators hope to prevent disadvantaged families from choosing bad schools, voucher program regulations appear to limit the quality of educational options available to low‐​income families in both Milwaukee and Ohio.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <h2>Introduction</h2> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”<br><br>— F. A. Hayek, “<em>The Pretence of Knowledge</em>”</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Not all school choice programs are created equal. Policy design differs greatly across states. Because voucher-using families use public education dollars that would have otherwise gone to government schools, taxpayers and government officials are often highly concerned about the quality of private schools these families choose for their children. Government regulations are largely the result of these concerns.</p> <p>Most regulators of private school choice programs have good intentions. They want children to get the education they need to be successful in the long run. Voucher program regulations can be thought of as attempts by regulators to prevent families that qualify for voucher funding from making poor educational decisions for their children. These regulations can also be efforts to push private schools to operate more effectively and equitably. Either way, it is pretty clear that the experts want what they think is best for kids.</p> <p>Some of these regulations include requirements that teachers and administrators have bachelor’s degrees or teaching licenses, mandates that all students take the state standardized tests, and requirements that private schools admit students at random. As with many other uses of government force, these types of voucher program regulations may come with some unintended consequences.</p> <p>Increasing the costs for private schools to participate in voucher programs may decrease the likelihood that private-school leaders decide to participate in the programs. Put differently, higher regulatory costs lead to fewer options for the students who need them the most. And we shouldn’t expect that raising program entry costs will equally deter private schools from participating in voucher programs, regardless of quality. In theory, lower-quality private schools may be less likely to turn down the voucher offer, regardless of the strings attached, since they are the most desperate for cash. On the other hand, highly specialized private schools that are already working well for their students may be less likely to accept government regulations that could change their successful educational models. In other words, voucher regulations could inadvertently reduce the average quality level of private schools that agree to participate in choice programs.</p> <p>We empirically examine this hypothesis using school-level data from two of the most highly regulated voucher programs in the United States: the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) and the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program (EdChoice). Using tuition, enrollment, and customer review scores as proxies for school quality, we find strong evidence suggesting that lower-quality private schools are more likely to participate in voucher programs in both locations. This result is a big problem if our aim is to provide high-quality educational options for children who are currently in government schools that are failing them. Maybe instead of trying so hard to prevent low-income families from making the wrong decisions, regulators ought to realize that their interference may exacerbate the very problems they wish to solve.</p> <h2>Theory</h2> <p>When a school voucher program is enacted in a given location, each private-school leader in the area must make a participation decision. The decision is based on the expected benefits and costs of program participation. The major benefit of participating in a school voucher program is, of course, the voucher revenue. Because private schools must compete with schools that are “free” — traditional public schools and public charter schools — some private schools may have a difficult time staying in business. Voucher funding makes private schooling more affordable, so private schools participating in voucher programs will have less difficulty filling empty seats and remaining financially stable, all else being equal.</p> <p>On the other side of the equation is the bureaucratic red tape. Whenever private schools accept voucher funding, the government is given an avenue to exert additional control over those schools’ operations. For example, to participate in the MPCP, private schools must allow students to opt out of religious programs, submit annual financial audits, be accredited by the state, admit students on a random basis, take the voucher amount as full payment, require all teachers and administrators to hold a teaching license or a bachelor’s degree, and require all their students to take state standardized tests.<sup><a id="endnote-001-backlink" href="#endnote-001">1</a></sup> If a given private school expects that additional costs will exceed additional benefits, it will not participate in the voucher program.</p> <p>We expect that lower-quality schools — those schools likely to be more strapped for revenue — will have stronger incentives to accept voucher program regulations. On the other hand, we expect that high-quality private schools — as measured by tuition, enrollment, and customer reviews — will be more likely to turn down the voucher offer, especially if they already have an educational model that is working for their customers and do not need additional revenue to remain financially sound.</p> <h2>Literature Review</h2> <p>The evidence linking private school choice programs to standardized test scores is abundant. The preponderance of the most rigorous evidence suggests that private school choice programs improve test scores for children in the United States and abroad. A meta-analytic review of 19 experimental evaluations of voucher programs around the globe finds small improvements in math and reading test scores.<sup><a id="endnote-002-backlink" href="#endnote-002">2</a></sup> These evaluations employ random assignment, considered to be the “gold standard” of empirical testing because it is intended to isolate the effects of the variable of interest from the effects of other factors. In other words, random-assignment evaluations allow us to confidently conclude that observed differences in student outcomes are the result of the types of schools the students attend. A majority of the 17 evaluations of voucher programs in the United States found statistically significant positive effects on test scores for some or all students.<sup><a id="endnote-003-backlink" href="#endnote-003">3</a></sup> Only two of the studies — one in Louisiana and one in Washington, D.C. — found negative effects on student test scores.<sup><a id="endnote-004-backlink" href="#endnote-004">4</a></sup></p> <p>What led to the negative results in D.C. and Louisiana? Authors of the Louisiana study theorize that the high participation rates of low-quality private schools could explain the results.<sup><a id="endnote-005-backlink" href="#endnote-005">5</a></sup> The schools that were most desperate for funding — the ones facing declining enrollment — were more likely to participate in the program and accept its heavy package of regulations.</p> <p><a id="_idTextAnchor000"></a>Yujie Sude, Corey A. DeAngelis, and Patrick J. Wolf found evidence supporting this idea in the Louisiana program.<sup><a id="endnote-006-backlink" href="#endnote-006">6</a></sup> Specifically, the authors found that a $1,000 increase in tuition was associated with a 3.5 percentage-point reduction in the likelihood of participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program.<sup><a id="endnote-007-backlink" href="#endnote-007">7</a></sup> Of course, tuition is not a perfect measure of school quality. However, tuition may be the best measure of quality available because school quality is subjective; tuition represents the price that customers are willing to pay for each given school’s educational product, and price, as in other industries, should at least be positively correlated with quality. Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf also found that a one-point increase in review scores from the website GreatSchools was associated with around a 12 percentage-point reduction in the likelihood of participation in the Louisiana voucher program; however, the difference was not statistically significant.<sup><a id="endnote-008-backlink" href="#endnote-008">8</a></sup> Recent empirical evidence also suggests that burdensome voucher regulations led to homogenization of the supply of private schools in Louisiana and other states.<sup><a id="endnote-009-backlink" href="#endnote-009">9</a></sup></p> <p>Only a third of private schools elected to participate in the highly regulated voucher program in Louisiana, while private-school participation in less heavily regulated programs tends to be more than double that proportion.<sup><a id="endnote-010-backlink" href="#endnote-010">10</a></sup> These patterns likely have to do with high regulatory costs. Indeed, Brian Kisida, Patrick J. Wolf, and Evan Rhinesmith found that 100 percent of leaders of private schools participating in the Louisiana program stated that future regulations were a concern in general, and 64 percent reported that program regulations were a “major concern.”<sup><a id="endnote-011-backlink" href="#endnote-011">11</a></sup> David Stuit and Sy Doan found that private schools are less likely to participate in voucher programs that have heavier packages of regulations.<sup><a id="endnote-012-backlink" href="#endnote-012">12</a></sup></p> <p>We follow the methodology employed by Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf to examine the types of schools that choose to participate in voucher programs in Ohio and Milwaukee.<sup><a id="endnote-013-backlink" href="#endnote-013">13</a></sup> We expect to find similar results, suggesting that lower-quality schools are more likely to participate in school choice programs in those two locations.</p> <h2>The Programs</h2> <h3>Milwaukee Parental Choice Program</h3> <p>The MPCP, launched in 1990, is considered the nation’s first modern-day private school choice program.<sup><a id="endnote-014-backlink" href="#endnote-014">14</a></sup> Children are eligible for the program if their family’s income does not exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($73,800 for a family of four in 2017–2018.) Milwaukee has 126 schools participating in the voucher program, serving 28,702 students. Indeed, around 63 percent of the eligible children in Milwaukee participate in the MPCP.<sup><a id="endnote-015-backlink" href="#endnote-015">15</a></sup> The MPCP is the largest of the four private school choice programs in Wisconsin, and the average voucher funding amount is $7,503 per student each year. The other three programs are the Racine Parental Choice Program, the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, and the Special Needs Scholarship Program. Our analysis focuses on the MPCP because it has the highest participation levels for both schools and students. Indeed, the MPCP has almost 10 times more participating students than the Racine Parental Choice Program, which is the second-largest voucher system in the state.</p> <p>Schools that participate in the MPCP are required to abide by many rules and regulations. Participating private schools must administer state standardized tests, undergo annual financial audits, require that each administrator and teacher have either a teaching license or a bachelor’s degree, require all administrators to go through financial training, admit students on a random basis, take the voucher amount as payment-in-full, and allow their students to opt out of religious activities. Participating schools are also graded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the results are published on its website every year.</p> <h3>Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program</h3> <p>Ohio’s EdChoice was enacted in 2005 and launched in 2006. It has 482 participating schools serving 22,846 students, and the average voucher value is $4,705. There are four other voucher programs in the state: the Cleveland Scholarship Program, the Autism Scholarship Program, the Income-Based Scholarship Program, and the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program. We examine the EdChoice program because it is the largest in the state of Ohio in terms of participating schools and students. In addition, the regulatory burden for participation in the EdChoice program is higher than for participation in the other four programs in the state. In the second-largest voucher program in the state, the Cleveland Scholarship Program, private schools only need to administer state tests, meet state standards, and comply with nondiscriminatory codes.</p> <p>Private schools participating in EdChoice are bound by extensive rules and regulations. The program targets kids in “low-performing” public schools and participating private schools must accept the voucher funding as full payment for students from families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Participating private schools are required to administer state standardized tests to voucher students and the aggregate results are publicized on Ohio’s Department of Education website. If more than 65 percent of a participating private school’s student body uses voucher funding, the school is required to administer state standardized tests to all of its students.<sup><a id="endnote-016-backlink" href="#endnote-016">16</a></sup> However, nonvoucher families may opt out of the tests.</p> <p>As shown in Table 1, the MPCP is more heavily regulated overall than the EdChoice voucher program. The Milwaukee voucher program requires private schools to use random-based admissions, mandates that students are allowed to opt out of religious activities, prohibits parental copayment for all students, and places more restrictive requirements on teachers and administrators than the Ohio EdChoice program. Stuit and Doan ranked both of these voucher programs in the top three in the United States for highest regulatory burdens, but they also concluded that the MPCP was more heavily regulated than the EdChoice program.<sup><a id="endnote-017-backlink" href="#endnote-017">17</a></sup> Does this mean that the MPCP is more likely to deter high-quality schools from participating than the EdChoice program?</p> <p><strong>Table 1: Regulatory burdens, Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="cd961615-dbe5-499d-afe0-4ddbd2c4a09d" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="654" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-1.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p>Not necessarily. Of course, program regulation is only one side of the participation decisionmaking model. The other side of the equation — voucher funding and the eligible student pool — provides more benefits to the MPCP participants than those opting into the EdChoice program. Specifically, only 10 percent of the students in Ohio are eligible for the EdChoice voucher funding, while 69 percent of the students in Milwaukee are eligible for MPCP funding. Similarly, the EdChoice voucher amount is only 37 percent of the public school per pupil funding level in Ohio, while the MPCP voucher amount is 65 percent of the public school per pupil funding level in Milwaukee. Put differently, the Milwaukee voucher program provides participating private schools with a larger share of the education market than the EdChoice program.</p> <p>Because the MPCP offers more potential financial benefits to private schools, while the EdChoice program allows for more private school autonomy, it is unclear where we will detect the strongest negative relationship between school quality and participation. However, as Table 1 shows, only 44 percent of Ohio private schools participate in the EdChoice program, while 79 percent of Milwaukee’s private schools participate in the MPCP, indicating that the overall voucher offer is more enticing in Milwaukee than in Ohio. This divergence in private school participation rates suggests that lower-quality schools should be more likely to participate in Ohio than in Milwaukee.</p> <h2>Data</h2> <p>Schools participating in the MPCP were identified through Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction website.<sup><a id="endnote-018-backlink" href="#endnote-018">18</a></sup> The department also provided enrollment numbers and type of school for participating schools in the program for the 2017–2018 school year.<sup><a id="endnote-019-backlink" href="#endnote-019">19</a></sup> We gathered tuition data from individual school websites for participating and nonparticipating schools. If schools did not have their tuition data available online, we called school leaders to obtain the information. Because the department did not provide enrollment numbers for nonparticipating schools, we used the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website to gather their enrollment numbers.<sup><a id="endnote-020-backlink" href="#endnote-020">20</a></sup> The NCES only provided enrollment numbers for the year 2015–2016, the most recent year of data available. There are 126 schools participating in the MPCP, and we found 50 schools in the city of Milwaukee that were not participating in the program. Our analytic sample — with complete data for tuition, enrollment, and school type — for the MPCP analyses is 126 schools. Because there are 159 open private schools in Milwaukee, the analytic sample represents 79 percent of all schools in the city.<sup><a id="endnote-021-backlink" href="#endnote-021">21</a></sup></p> <p>For Ohio’s EdChoice program, we found enrollment numbers on the Ohio’s Department of Education website for both participating and nonparticipating schools.<sup><a id="endnote-022-backlink" href="#endnote-022">22</a></sup> If the website did not have enrollment information for a given school, we used the NCES database. The Ohio website provided tuition levels for participating private schools. We found tuition data for nonparticipating schools using institutions’ websites. According to data from NCES and the Ohio Department of Education, there are more than 500 private schools in the state that do not participate in the EdChoice program. At the same time, according to NCES, there are 278 Amish schools in the state of Ohio. Because these schools generally do not have websites or phone numbers needed to find relevant information, we removed them from our analysis. We found 482 participating private schools and 229 nonparticipating private schools in Ohio. Our analytic sample — with complete data for tuition, enrollment, and school type — for the Ohio EdChoice analysis is 549 schools. Because there are 1,098 open private schools in Ohio, the analytic sample represents 50 percent of all schools in the state.<sup><a id="endnote-023-backlink" href="#endnote-023">23</a></sup></p> <p>Because private schools may charge different tuitions for different grades, we calculated the average tuition level for each school. In addition, many Christian schools provide a discount to members of the parish. Because the Ohio Department of Education did not account for these types of discounts in its tuition data, we used tuition levels for nonmembers for both the participating and nonparticipating schools.<sup><a id="endnote-024-backlink" href="#endnote-024">24</a></sup> For the MPCP, we averaged the tuition levels for members and nonmembers for both participating and nonparticipating schools. We did not include daycare programs or other prekindergarten institutions in this study. Private school customer reviews were found through GreatSchools, an online nonprofit that provides educational information and reviews for private, public, and charter schools.<sup><a id="endnote-025-backlink" href="#endnote-025">25</a></sup> We also used each private school’s average Google review score as a proxy for quality.</p> <p>Descriptive statistics of school-level data used for all analyses can be found in Table 2. The composition of schools in Milwaukee and Ohio are similar on observable characteristics. GreatSchools review scores are nearly identical across locations: on the five-point scale, the average private school in our sample has a score of 4.17 points in Milwaukee and 4.16 points in Ohio. The average private school Google review score is 4.14 points in Milwaukee and 4.23 points in Ohio. Tuition levels are $1,043 higher per student in Ohio, while total student enrollment is 22 students higher per private school in Milwaukee.</p> <p><strong>Table 2: Descriptive statistics by program</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="6fbad719-f065-4dda-9723-4e340dc5d63d" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="818" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-2.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <h2>Methods</h2> <p>We employ a probit regression approach of the form:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p><em>Prob (Participant<sub>i2016</sub>) = β<sub>0</sub> + β<sub>1</sub> Tuition<sub>i2016</sub> + β<sub>2</sub>Enrollment <sub>i2016</sub> + β<sub>3</sub>X<sub>i2016</sub> + ε<sub>it</sub></em></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>where the binary dependent variable, <em>Participant</em>, takes on the value of 1 if a given private school <em>i</em> participates in the location’s voucher program in the 2016–2017 school year and takes on the value of 0 otherwise. The two independent variables of interest are <em>Tuition</em> and <em>Enrollment</em>. The first, <em>Tuition</em>, is the reported tuition level (in thousands of U.S. dollars) for private school <em>i</em> in the 2016–2017 school year. The second, <em>Enrollment</em>, is the total number of students attending private school <em>i</em> in the 2016–2017 school year. From an economist’s perspective, tuition and enrollment are proxies for price and quantity demanded, respectively. Of course, these are not perfect measures of school quality, but they should at least be positively correlated with school quality. Because all families’ individual choices regarding where to educate their children are reflected in schools’ tuitions and enrollments, these are the best measures we have available to gauge quality.<sup><a id="endnote-026-backlink" href="#endnote-026">26</a></sup> Because the lower-quality schools are more likely to be desperate for voucher funding, we expect β<sub>₁</sub> and β<sub>₂</sub> to be negative, indicating that schools with higher tuition and enrollments are less likely to participate. We control for vector <em>X</em>, which includes indicator variables for whether the school is classified as elementary, elementary/middle, high, or K–12.</p> <p>In an alternative model, we use Google and GreatSchools review scores, ranging from 1 to 5, as measures of quality for the subset of private schools that have review information available.<sup><a id="endnote-027-backlink" href="#endnote-027">27</a></sup> Because schools with fewer ratings could be largely influenced by outliers, and because schools with a larger number of ratings might actively nudge families to post positive scores, this model also controls for the number of ratings recorded for each type of review. Of course, customer review measures still have limitations: these scores are based on customer’s subjective perceptions of quality; reviews can be completed by noncustomers; and not all customers complete reviews. However, these limitations should not bias our results because they apply to both participating and nonparticipating private schools. In addition to probit regression, we employ logistic regression and linear probability models to check the robustness of our results. Epsilon (ε) is the random-error term.</p> <h2>Results</h2> <h3>Milwaukee Parental Choice Program</h3> <p>As shown in Table 3, schools with higher tuition levels are significantly less likely to participate in the MPCP. Our preferred model illustrates that a $1,000 increase in private school tuition is associated with a 2.3 percentage-point (3 percent) lower likelihood of participation. Put differently, a one-standard-deviation increase in private school tuition ($4,666) is associated with a 10.7 percentage-point (13.9 percent) reduction in the likelihood of participation in the MPCP.</p> <p><strong>Table 3: School quality and participation, Milwaukee Parental Choice Program<br />(tuition and enrollment)</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="9530211a-6383-4fb5-a6ac-58cb95048bbe" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="372" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-3.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p>We do not find any evidence that student enrollment is associated with the program participation decision. This may be because the price (tuition) of the school is a function of its quantity demanded (enrollment). Indeed, as shown in Table 4, a 100-student increase in enrollment is associated with a tuition that is about $520 higher, on average.</p> <p><strong>Table 4: Relationship between tuition and enrollment</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="219c9255-6492-4164-89d5-f6fb28025597" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="238" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-4.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p>As shown in Table 5, we find additional evidence using customer review scores that lower-quality schools are more likely to participate in the MPCP. In particular, we find that a one-point increase in a GreatSchools review score is associated with an 11.4 percentage-point (14.8 percent) reduction in the likelihood of program participation. We do not find any evidence to suggest that Google review ratings are associated with participation in the MPCP. This may be explained by the fact that Google reviews are more accessible to noncustomers. A higher level of public accessibility could lead to additional measurement error and therefore statistically insignificant results. Statistically significant results can also be found in Figure 1.</p> <p><strong>Table 5: School quality and participation, Milwaukee Parental Choice Program<br />(online reviews)</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="92d63088-0522-4833-87a3-2fd6aa97c44f" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="369" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-5.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Figure 1: Statistically significant effects of school quality on participation,<br />Milwaukee Parental Choice Program</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7c50190c-f925-4ff8-b59f-847f77106f9b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="357" alt="Media Name: pa-848-figure-1-update.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <h2>Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program</h2> <p>The results for EdChoice are similar to the results from Milwaukee. Table 6 shows that schools with higher tuition are significantly less likely to participate in the Ohio program. Our preferred model illustrates that a $1,000 increase in private school tuition is associated with a 2.8 percentage-point (3.8 percent) lower likelihood of participating in the Ohio voucher program. Put differently, a one-standard-deviation increase in private school tuition ($4,683) is associated with a 13.1 percentage-point (17.8 percent) reduction in the likelihood of participation in the Ohio program. Similar to Milwaukee, we do not find any evidence that student enrollment is associated with the program participation decision in Ohio.</p> <p><strong>Table 6: School quality and participation, Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program (tuition and enrollment)</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a7a7c814-fa94-43f4-a8bf-57393a17fb6d" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="370" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-6.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p>As shown in Table 7, we do not find any statistically significant evidence that customer review scores are associated with voucher program participation. As shown in the preferred specification, a one-point increase in a Google review score is associated with a 4.5 percentage-point (6.1 percent) lower likelihood of program participation; however, this result is not statistically significant at the p &lt; 0.10 level. Statistically significant results can be found in Figure 2.</p> <p><strong>Table 7: School quality and participation, Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program (online reviews)</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a2f865b8-9f3c-4a8a-bb95-321006ea3c61" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="389" alt="Media Name: pa-848-table-7.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Figure 2: Statistically significant effects of school quality on participation,<br />Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="2afe635b-b8d2-4da6-a9b8-b16a12dca143" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="368" alt="Media Name: pa-848-figure-2-update.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/ 1x, /sites/ 1.5x" data-src="/sites/" typeof="Image" /></div> <h2>Limitations</h2> <p>These results can only be interpreted as correlational because of the descriptive nature of the analysis. This study tells us that lower-quality schools — as measured by tuition and customer reviews — are more likely to participate in voucher programs in Milwaukee and Ohio, but we cannot conclude why this is the case with certainty. However, we believe our explanation — that lower-quality schools might be more desperate for financial resources and therefore may be more willing to put up with program regulations — is the strongest theory currently available.</p> <p>The dependent variables are the most important limitations to the study. We use tuition, enrollment, and customer reviews as proxies for school quality. These are not perfect measures, but they should be positively correlated with school quality. We believe that they are the best measures of school quality available because school quality is highly subjective; tuition and enrollment are proxies for price and quantity demanded, that is, they are measures that capture the willingness and abilities of customers to pay for given products; and customer review scores are usually good indicators of quality in other industries — a restaurant with a four-star average rating is generally better than a restaurant with a two-star average rating. In addition, our statistically significant results for tuition and customer reviews point in the same expected direction, suggesting that lower-quality schools are more likely to participate in voucher programs. While these results mirror the work of Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf, more research examining other locations and using alternative measures of school quality would be especially welcome.</p> <h2>Conclusion and Policy Recommendations</h2> <p>Similar to the previous evaluation by Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf, in which they find that lower-quality private schools are more likely to participate in voucher programs in D.C., Indiana, and Louisiana, we find significant evidence to suggest that regulations deter high-quality private schools from participating in voucher programs in Ohio and Milwaukee. Specifically, a $1,000 increase in tuition is associated with a 3 percent lower likelihood of participation in the Milwaukee voucher program and a 3.8 percent lower likelihood of participation in Ohio. We also find that a one-point increase in a GreatSchools review score is associated with a 14.8 percent reduction in the likelihood of participation in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Ironically, while regulators hope to prevent disadvantaged families from choosing bad schools, voucher program regulations appear to have limited the quality of educational options available to low-income families in Milwaukee and Ohio.</p> <p>It would be wise for decisionmakers to reduce the costs of private school participation by deregulating these two programs. Both programs require all participating private schools to administer the state standardized assessment and mandate that private schools accept the voucher funding as full payment, even if the amount is well below tuition levels. Officials in Milwaukee should consider allowing private schools to control their own admissions standards and should not mandate that all teachers and administrators have teaching licenses or bachelor’s degrees. Instead of trying to control the decisions that low-income families make regarding their children’s schools, we ought to empower these families with the freedom to make educational decisions for their own kids. This additional freedom would lead to more options for the families that need them the most and a more educated society for all of us.</p> <h2>Notes</h2> <p><a id="endnote-001" href="#endnote-001-backlink"><sup>1</sup></a>. EdChoice, “Wisconsin—Milwaukee Parental Choice Program,” <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-002" href="#endnote-002-backlink"><sup>2</sup></a>. M. Danish Shakeel, Kaitlin P. Anderson, and Patrick J. Wolf, “The Participant Effects of Private School Vouchers Across the Globe: A Meta-Analytic and Systematic Review,” working paper no. 2016-07, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, May 2016.</p> <p><a id="endnote-003" href="#endnote-003-backlink"><sup>3</sup></a>. Kaitlin P. Anderson and Patrick J. Wolf, “Evaluating School Vouchers: Evidence from a Within-Study Comparison,” working paper no. 2017-10, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, April 2017; John Barnard, Constantine E. Frangakis, Jennifer L. Hill, et al., “Principal Stratification Approach to Broken Randomized Experiments: A Case Study of School Choice Vouchers in New York City,” <em>Journal of the American Statistical Association</em> 98, no. 462 (2003): 299–323; Marianne Bitler, Thurston Domina, Emily Penner, et al., “Distributional Analysis in Educational Evaluation: A Case Study from the New York City Voucher Program,” <em>Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness</em> 8, no. 3 (2015): 419–50; Joshua M. Cowen, “School Choice as a Latent Variable: Estimating the ‘Compiler Average Causal Effect’ of Vouchers in Charlotte,” <em>Policy Studies Journal</em> 36, no. 2 (2008): 301–15; Jay P. Greene, Paul E. Peterson, and Jiangtao Du, “Effectiveness of School Choice: The Milwaukee Experiment,” <em>Education and Urban Society</em> 31, no. 2 (1999): 190–213; Jay P. Greene, “The Effect of School Choice: An Evaluation of the Charlotte Children’s Scholarship Fund Program,” Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Civic Report no. 12, August 2000, <a href=""></a>; William G. Howell, Patrick J. Wolf, and David E. Campbell, “School Vouchers and Academic Performance: Results from Three Randomized Field Trials,” <em>Journal of Policy Analysis and Management</em> 21, no. 2 (2002): 191–217; Hui Jin, John Barnard, and Donald B. Rubin, “A Modified General Location Model for Noncompliance with Missing Data: Revisiting the New York City School Choice Scholarship Program Using Principal Stratification,” <em>Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics</em> 35, no. 2 (2010): 154–73; and Cecilia E. Rouse, “Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program,” <em>Quarterly Journal of Economics</em> 113, no. 2 (1998): 553–602.</p> <p><a id="endnote-004" href="#endnote-004-backlink"><sup>4</sup></a>. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters, “Free to Choose: Can School Choice Reduce Student Achievement?,” <em>American Economic Journal: Applied Economics</em> 10, no. 1 (2018): 175–206; and Mark Dynarski, Ning Rui, Ann Webber, et al., “Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Program: Impacts Two Years after Students Applied,” National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (Washington: U.S. Department of Education, 2018).</p> <p><a id="endnote-005" href="#endnote-005-backlink"><sup>5</sup></a>. Abdulkadiroğlu, Pathak, and Walters, “Free to Choose,” pp. 175–206; Jonathan N. Mills and Patrick J. Wolf, “Vouchers in the Bayou: The Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Student Achievement after 2 Years,” <em>Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis</em> 39, no. 3 (2017): 464–84; and Jonathan N. Mills and Patrick J. Wolf, “The Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Student Achievement after Three Years,” Louisiana Scholarship Program Evaluation Report no. 7, June 2017.</p> <p><a id="endnote-006" href="#endnote-006-backlink"><sup>6</sup></a>. Yujie Sude, Corey A. DeAngelis, and Patrick J. Wolf, “Supplying Choice: An Analysis of School Participation Decisions in Voucher Programs in Washington, D.C., Indiana, and Louisiana,” <em>Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform</em> 12, no. 1 (2018): 8–33.</p> <p><a id="endnote-007" href="#endnote-007-backlink"><sup>7</sup></a>. Corey A. DeAngelis, “Unintended Impacts of Regulations on the Quality of Schooling Options,” Education Next, July 2017, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-008" href="#endnote-008-backlink"><sup>8</sup></a>. Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf, “Supplying Choice,” pp. 8–33.</p> <p><a id="endnote-009" href="#endnote-009-backlink"><sup>9</sup></a>. Corey A. DeAngelis and Lindsey Burke, “Does Regulation Induce Homogenisation? An Analysis of Three Voucher Programmes in the United States,” <em>Educational Research and</em> <em>Evaluation</em> 23, no. 7-8 (2017): 311–27, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>; and Corey A. DeAngelis and Lindsey M. Burke, “Does Regulation Reduce Specialization? Examining the Impact of Regulations on Private Schools of Choice in Four Locations,” EdChoice, forthcoming.</p> <p><a id="endnote-010" href="#endnote-010-backlink"><sup>10</sup></a>. Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf, “Supplying Choice,” pp. 8–33.</p> <p><a id="endnote-011" href="#endnote-011-backlink"><sup>11</sup></a>. Brian Kisida, Patrick J. Wolf, and Evan Rhinesmith, “Views from Private Schools: Attitudes about School Choice Programs in Three States,” American Enterprise Institute, January 2015. </p> <p><a id="endnote-012" href="#endnote-012-backlink"><sup>12</sup></a>. David Stuit and Sy Doan, “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?” Thomas B. Fordham Institute, January 2013. </p> <p><a id="endnote-013" href="#endnote-013-backlink"><sup>13</sup></a>. Sude, DeAngelis, and Wolf, “Supplying Choice,” pp. 8–33.</p> <p><a id="endnote-014" href="#endnote-014-backlink"><sup>14</sup></a>. The longest-standing private school choice programs in the United States, launched in the late 19th century, are “Town Tuitioning Programs,” located in Maine and Vermont. These two programs allow families in towns without public schools to use public education dollars to send their children to private or public schools of their choosing. </p> <p><a id="endnote-015" href="#endnote-015-backlink"><sup>15</sup></a>. EdChoice, “Wisconsin–Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.”</p> <p><a id="endnote-016" href="#endnote-016-backlink"><sup>16</sup></a>. EdChoice, “Ohio–Educational Choice Scholarship Program,” <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-017" href="#endnote-017-backlink"><sup>17</sup></a>. Stuit and Doan, “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?” </p> <p><a id="endnote-018" href="#endnote-018-backlink"><sup>18</sup></a>. “Private School Choice Programs: 2018–2019 Student Applications,” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-019" href="#endnote-019-backlink"><sup>19</sup></a>. “Private School Choice Programs (MPCP, RPCP, WPCP) and Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) Summary, 2017–2018 School Year Student HC, FTE and Annualized Payments,” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-020" href="#endnote-020-backlink"><sup>20</sup></a>. “PSS Private School Universe Survey,” National Center for Education Statistics, <a href=" schoolsearch/" target="_blank"> schoolsearch/</a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-021" href="#endnote-021-backlink"><sup>21</sup></a>. “Milwaukee Private Schools,” Private School Review, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-022" href="#endnote-022-backlink"><sup>22</sup></a>. “Scholarship Dashboard,” Ohio Department of Education, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Once at the website, select “Educational Choice Scholarship.” </p> <p><a id="endnote-023" href="#endnote-023-backlink"><sup>23</sup></a>. “Ohio Private Schools,” Private School Review, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-024" href="#endnote-024-backlink"><sup>24</sup></a>. Several private schools have tuition discounts for parish members, meaning that tuition levels in our data are likely higher than what the schools actually charge. However, this will not bias our overall estimates because tuition levels for both participating and nonparticipating schools are biased upward.</p> <p><a id="endnote-025" href="#endnote-025-backlink"><sup>25</sup></a>. “School Ratings and Reviews for Public and Private Schools,” GreatSchools, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><a id="endnote-026" href="#endnote-026-backlink"><sup>26</sup></a>. F. A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” <em>American Economic Review</em> 35, no. 4 (1945): 519–30.</p> <p><a id="endnote-027" href="#endnote-027-backlink"><sup>27</sup></a>. We have review information for 114 of the 126 schools examined in the main analysis of the MPCP (90.5 percent), and 406 of the 549 schools examined in the main analysis of the Ohio EdChoice program (74.0 percent).</p> </div> Mon, 17 Sep 2018 03:00:00 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Blake Hoarty