Despite claims from pro-private school voucher advocates, a new study of the Milwaukee voucher program confirms what many previous studies have shown: Students who use vouchers to attend private schools do not show significant increases in academic achievement.
Nor, as the new Economic Policy Institute study reveals, do vouchers create a climate of "competition" that improves public schools.
Today's Salt Lake City Tribune story can be found here, and directly refutes Parents for Choice in Education's (PCE) claim that vouchers will create "competition" that will make Utah's public schools better.
In fact, the only thing Utah's private school voucher system will do is increase what taxpayers pay for education because they'll be called upon to fund two systems - one public and one private.
This sets up a situation where money that could be used for our PUBLIC schools will be diverted to unaccountable private voucher schools.
As the leader of the teachers' association in Milwaukee stated:
"The only competition that we've really seen between public schools and voucher schools in Milwaukee has been competition for resources," said Dennis Oulahan, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association president. "Public schools lost big time."
About the only thing pro-private school voucher folks can say about this and other studies is: Vouchers don't seem to "hurt" public schools.
Well, yes they do! Vouchers for private schools drain precious resources away from public schools - resources that could be used for textbooks, supplies, teacher aides, and teacher training.
This research isn't the only report verifying that students achieve as well in public schools as they do in private ones. The pro-voucher U.S. Department of Education quietly released a study last summer that came to the same conclusion after examining student performance over time. You can download and read the entire study here (pdf format).
So if Utah's proposed private school vouchers won't help students achieve more but will drain resources from public schools and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, why have private school vouchers at all??