Marketing School Choice

Jenny D. asks a very good question about school choice – one that’s been asked around this rantfest many times.

Does anyone have evidence from other nations that have full-blown school choice that it has raised students achievement? Or even that the achievement of all its students (read: minority and high-poverty students too) is higher than the US or other countries without school choice?

Key word there is evidence. Like real numbers, studies, etc.

Evidence. That would be nice. I’ll be watching to see if anyone offers her anything more than I’ve been able to find.

I won’t hold my breath. Because there is no evidence that the “competition” fostered by choice plans actually boosts student learning (beyond a few heart warming anecdotes), much less would improve our education system in general. The proof is also lacking in the implied claim of many choice advocates that all non-public schools by default do a better job than any public school.

The biggest problem with school choice proposals, however, is that they assume parents would have enough information to actually make an intelligent selection for their children.

Choice boosters are fond of invoking the “free market” when pushing their plans, but just look at how well businesses inform their customers for some insight on where this leads. Ads for most private and charter schools in this area are not too far off from those for cars, heavy on the touchy-feely and light on actual information.

For a true choice system to work, schools would need to provide detailed information about their programs and educational philosophy. And also educate parents about what all their statistics mean.

That’s not going to happen. If we ever adopted a total choice program, it’s more likely you will see the advertising budgets of schools rising faster than teacher salaries.

school choice, evidence