According to the National Education Association (NEA), "A pure voucher system would only encourage economic, racial, ethnic, and religious stratification in our society." One wonders how the NEA could reach this conclusion when both the Milwaukee and Cleveland voucher experiences show otherwise.
Rather than encourage stratification, these voucher programs lead to even less segregation, according to two recent reports by the Friedman Foundation. Private schools participating in the programs were found to be 13 to 18 points less segregated than their public school counterparts.
Because students are assigned to public schools based on where they live, there is a significant risk that schools will reflect the racial and economic segregation of neighborhoods. But, "Private schools have more potential to break down geographic barriers, drawing students together across neighborhood boundaries," explains Greg Forster, author of the reports. And, with the help of vouchers and tuition scholarships, private schools become affordable for more families, eliminating the financial obstacle to private school.
If "America's success has been built on our ability to unify our diverse populations," as the NEA claims, then doesn't their anti-voucher position block the way to an even more successful America?
Arwynn Mattix is a research assistant at the Goldwater Institute.
-Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation: "New studies find private schools in voucher programs less segregated than public schools"
-Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation: "Segregation Levels in Cleveland Public Schools and the Cleveland Voucher Program"
-Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation: "Segregation Levels in Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Voucher Program"