How does expanded educational opportunity impact families in terms of expectations, habits, and aspirations? This central question too often gets lost in purely data-driven debates about private school choice programs. Given the early evidence, perhaps it is time to change that.
Longstanding public policy debates often begin to take on a strange feeling of deja vu. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of nonpublic educational choice, where both sides have built veritable fortresses atop their chosen positions. They sling test score and other academic data across the parapets at one another, with one side citing studies finding negative results in private school choice programs and the other highlighting a large body of positive research. The more human side of the conversation too often gets lost in the data melee.
Don’t get me wrong. Measurable academic achievement matters. Students deserve to leave school with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive world, and nonpublic school choice programs are an important lever for reaching that goal. Yet, as others have pointed out, test scores can only ever tell part of the story.
Read the whole article originally published in The Hill on June 4, 2018.