If President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos get a national voucher program approved by Congress, it could be a crippling if not fatal blow to many of the small and medium-size school districts around the country, according to a new Center for American Progress report.
The left-leaning Washington think tank issued a report last Friday, “Vouchers Are Not a Viable Solution for Vast Swaths of America,” that examined the impact of a nationwide voucher program on three different classifications of districts based on the number of schools. In 85 percent of the 11,200 districts the report considered (excluding regional education agencies and charter schools), specifically those where there are eight or fewer schools, vouchers are either “highly unlikely” to work or “may not work,” the report states. Even just slight changes in enrollment triggered by vouchers, according to the report, could “dramatically destabilize” districts and communities while ignoring the real problems these districts, especially ones in rural areas.
And the CAP report authors, Catherine Brown and Neil Campbell, also argue that a greater market demand for private schools triggered by nationwide vouchers won’t necessarily be productive, citing 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress data that’s controversial in the debate over vouchers. One study of that data found that the performance of public school students outstripped that of students in private schools, although that analysis has been sharply criticized.
“There is also no reason to believe the new schools that crop up in response to the voucher initiative would be higher performing than the schools that are in operation today,” Brown and Campbell write.
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