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Choice Linked to Fewer Crimes

"Does School Choice Reduce Crime?"

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A study suggests that, for some students, getting into a first-choice school in a school-choice lottery can be a crime deterrent.

In an article published this month in Education Next, Harvard University researcher David J. Deming shares results from a study of a school-choice effort begun in North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg district in 2002. He gathered data on more than 4,000 middle and high school students who took part in the lottery that year, focusing on those who were deemed to be statistically more likely to commit crimes as a result of low achievement, poverty, gender, and other factors.

Within this group, those who got a spot in their top-choice school weren't any more academically successful seven years later than peers who lost the lottery, but they committed fewer violent felonies and spent less time incarcerated. But attending a preferred school had little effect on the 80 percent of students not in that risk group.

Vol. 31, Issue 21, Page 4

Published in Print: February 22, 2012, as Choice Linked to Fewer Crimes
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