On vouchers, the evidence is in, and it’s not good

The continued push for school vouchers, which transfer scarce taxpayer dollars out of public education and into private schools, is “a triumph of ideology over evidence that should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children.”

That’s how one scholar described President Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to lead the U.S. Department of Education. DeVos has been called the “four-star general” of the voucher movement, and getting her in place was a breakthrough for voucher advocates. But parents and policymakers must not lose sight of an extremely important truth: There is more evidence than ever before that the basic premise of the voucher movement is a lie.

Evidence has been accumulating over the last two years that many students in voucher programs have lost significant educational ground in math and reading. One study released last year was actually financed by a pro-voucher foundation and conducted by a pro-voucher think tank, and even it found that voucher students in private schools did worse academically than their peers in public schools.

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