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938 May 10,1993 THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATIONS SHABBY ASSAULT ON SCHOOL CHOCE INTRODUCTION Just one week before the November 1992 elections, Americans awoke to newspaper healines proclaiming School Choice Said to Leave Parents Cold, Where Available School Choice is Embraced by Few, Benefits of Choice a Myth, and School Choice Programs Do Not Lead to Improved Education, Report F i nds. The headlines were gener ated by a press release announcing a study conducted by the prestigious Carnegie Founda tion for the Advancement of Teaching, a public policy research organization headed by Er nest Boyer, Jimmy Carters Commissioner of Educat ion.
Understandably, Americans were influenced by this seemingly authoritative study. And some education choice initiatives on, the November ballot may have effectively been torpe doed by the Carnegie report.
Yet it appears that the Camegie Foundation may have misused its good name in order to have a political impact. The Camegie study which generated the attention-grabbing head lines was not formally released until January 19
93. And despite the tone of the Foundations press release, the final study offers no substantive evidence that school choice is not work ing, or that it has little support among parents.
Vigorous DiscussiOn. Giving p arents the right to choose the schools their children attend has emerged as the education reform idea most vigorously discussed in America. Thirteen states and many more school districts have adopted some kind of choice plan during the past five years. Le g islation is pendin in 34 states to allow parents to choose private as well as public schools for their children. The issue was also featured in many state and federal elec tions last November 5 1 Boyer was Commissioner of Education from 1977 to 1979, when the current Department of Education was still part of the Department of Health, Education. and Welfare. Boy= also was Chancellor of the State University of New York system from 1970 to 1977 2 See Angela Hulsey, School Choice: Whats Happening in the States , The Heritage Foundation, March 1993. In its 0ctober.press release,.however, Carnegie made the surprising claim that parents of public school children have little enthusiasm for choice in education. Furthermore, Carnegie stated that claims about the benef i ts of school choice greatly outdistance the evidence.J The release went on to say that evidence about the effectiveness of private school choice limited as it is, suggests that such a policy does not improve student achievement or stimu late school renewa l , and that parents who transfer their children do so primarily for non-ac ademic reasons Strong lQactions.-Many scholars and educators familiar L with .a1 the results of education choice experimentsereacted strongly to the press &lease, and to a draft of t he full study made available to a limited number of individuals. Terry Moe, a scholar at Stanford University and co-author with John Chubb of Politics, Markets, culcl Americas Schools, called the Carnegie report a real smear job, adding that its grossly u n fair and basically an effort to forward their own a en They put the most negative possible interpretation on every aspect of the evidence.Joseh Nathan, Director of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota, claims that he found 64 signif i cant misstatements of fact or distortions in one chapter.*6 And James MacGuire, a fellow at the Center for Social Thought in New York City, castigated the Carnegie study as the product of research and analysis so sloppy and tendentious as to seriously und e rmine the credibility of a institution that has up to now been an important voice in the debate over education But choice proponents had little time or opportunity for rebuttal before crucial November initiatives-especially since Carnegie rehsed to releas e the actual study or demographics.
Meanwhile choice opponents used the Carnegie press release to attack choice proposals throughout the country, among other things helping to defeat a comprehensive choice initia tive in Colorado.
When the full Carnegie s tudy was released this January, it became clear that the fall press release was a gross distortion of the Foundations own study, and that the studys analysis was highly flawed. Among the most troubling problems 4 x The study draws sweeping conclusions wit h little or no evidence and distorts the minimal evidence it does consider The study discusses three forms of school choice-districtwide, statewide, and private school choice-but it does little to substantiate the conclusions about choice that were made in the press release (and quoted in newspapers throughout the country x In most cases, very different inferences can be drawn from the polling data pre sented by Carnegie 3 Carnegie Foundation Press Release, October26.1992 4 Ibid 5 Advocates React Angrily to Study Questioning, Educution Week, November 4, 1992, p. 5 6 Ibid 7 The Carnegie Assault on School Choice, The Wall Street Journal. November 25, 1992 2 A Americans could be forgiven for thinking that the press release, apparently timed for maxi mum politic a l impact, and the introduction to the-studyit. supposedly summarized, refer to quite different publications. The press release suggests choice is an unpopular failure. But the introduction to the Carnegie study quotes heavily from publications by choice a d vocates including Heritage Foundation scholars, John Chubb of Chris Whittles Edison Project Terry Moe, and Sy Fliegel of New Yorks Manhattan Institute. Moreover, the study never states that choice does not lead to reform. Boyer even notes that choice has w orked well in the pilot projects the report examines: in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and East Harlem Ne where d&s:fheCdnegie Study suggest that the United Statesshould not have choice in the schools. It merely ;argues that choice is not a panacea. It concl udes that choice is only a cata lyst, one factor in many leading to school improvement.
Sadly, the Carnegie Foundation appears to have used its good name to give credence to a flawed study, and then to misrepresent the fmdings of that study for political e ffect. It seems that scholars and policy makers in the future should treat pronouncements from Carnegie with much greater caution THE STRUCTURE OF THE CARNEGIE STUDY The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has been an influential and in no vative voice in higher education for almost ninety years.
Established in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie to provide pensions for college faculty, the Car negie Foundation has expanded through the years to include studies of learning at all levels.
The Foundation played a central role through the 1900s in the struggles for excellence in col leges and schools, focusing attention on such critical factors as the quality of teaching, the centrality of language, and the coherence of the curriculum. Carnegie now conduct s studies School Choice: A Special Repori is one of a series of studies published by the Foundation designed to respond to current debates and focus the attention of educators and policy mak ers on themes considered important by the Foundations Board Conce n trating on Bureaucrats. The authors of the Carnegie study contacted scores of parents, interviewed students, and talked with teachers and administrators in school districts and in states with comprehensive choice programs and gathered information from sta te chief school officers in all fifty states and the District of C~lumbia Yet the study concen trates almost exclusively on the reports of education officials and school superintendents.
Rather than offering a representative picture of the interviews, it d evotes relatively little at tention to the-favorab1e.opinions.of the parents. and students. The study also largely ignores the many published studies demonstrating the success of school choice.
The 113-page study is divided into six main chapters: Freedom to Choose; School Choice Possibilities and Problems; Districtwide Choice: Montclair, Cambridge, East Har lem; Statewide Choice: Winners and Losers; Private School Choice: Milwaukee; and and publishes reports intended to shape public debate about educatio n 8 Camegie Press Release, p. 3 9.School Choice: A Special Report (Princeton, N.J The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 1993 p. 7 3 PROBLEMS WITH THE STUDYS POLLING School.Choice.in.Pefipective.?.There is also a chapter of recommendations and two appendi ces, Survey Among-Parents. Attending .Public School, 1992: and.!Survey of Chief State School Officers.
The Carnegie study contains two polls drafted by the Carnegie Foundation and conducted in July-August 1992 by the McLean, Virginia-based Wirthlin Group.OThe first poll asked 1 ,013 pubficsch&5lpirentssixkn:qu~stioris.;about theirchikirens schools, including 4 How satisfied are you with the quality of the education your child got at this school last year 4 Some people think that parents sh ould be given a voucher which they could use toward enrolling their child in a private school at public expense. Do you support or oppose this idea 4 Why would you like to enroll your child in this other school?
Fifty-one percent of parents answered that t hey were very satisfied with their childs school, some 62 percent stated that they opposed the idea of sending children to private schools at public expense, and almost every parent who wanted to send their child to a differ ent school cited academic reas ons.
The second poll, also drafted by Carnegie and conducted in September 1992 by the Wirthlin Group asked all respondents (not just public school parents) whether they would prefer a political candidate who would work to improve every school or one who wo uld force schools to compete. Eighty-two percent of individuals polled answered that they wanted all schools to improve Problem #1 The Carnegie questions appear worded to elicit negative responses.
Example: Some people think that parents should be given a voucher which they could use toward enrolling their child in a private school at public expense. Do you support or oppose that idea?
The very use of the term a private school at public expense carries the im plication that children in public schools are not a drain on the public purse. The question also fails to note that choice would decrease rather than increase total public expenditures on education since the cost of the voucher would be less than the cost of educating the child in a public school Exa mple: Is there some other school to which you would like to send your child?
This school could be private, inside or outside of your district 10 Some 75 percent to 85 percent of respondents were not included in the first survey because they did not have children in public school..The second poll was conducted on a random-digit-dia l ing basis, and all 1,005 respondents were accepted 4 Some 70.percent of respondents said they would not like to move their chil- response showed opposition among parents to the idea of being given the right to choose a school. But satisfaction with a curr e nt school actually says little about a decision to choose. If a person is satisfied with the car, it does not mean they do not value right to choose the car they drive. One reason for a lack of interest in changing schools is that, in many cases, parents a lready have made their choice of school when selecting the neighborhood in which they live one-i~theresile$~business-knowswell that house buyers tend to place the quality of local public schools high among their criteria for picking a neighborhood. Thus, e ven many strong choice proponents would not choose to move their child to a different school if given the opportunity. Significantly 80 percent of those polled live either in suburbs (43.5 percent) or rural areas 36.5 percent), where the public schools ge nerally are not as plagued with the academic and discipline problems common in large urban school systems.
Still, some 28 percent of public school parents answered that they would like to transfer their child to a different school. While this was downplaye d in the Carnegie press release and study, the poll actually underscores the desire to exercise choice, if it were permitted, by almost one-third of parents with chil dren in public schools 1 dren to another school. Camegie scholars mistakenly inferred th at this The second poll, conducted in September 1992, asked all 1,005 respondents, not just pub lic school parents, one question Please imagine two people having a discussion on how to improve the pub lic schools in this country.
Mr. Smith says: The best way to improve education is to focus directly on supporting neighborhood schools, giving every school the resources needed to achieve excellence.
Mr. Jones says: The best way to improve education is to let schools compete with each other for students. Qual ity schools would be further strengthened and weak schools would improve or close neighborhood school or Mr. Jones who would let schools compete for stu dents Who are you more likely to agree with, Mr. Smith who would support every Given this choice, it i s hardly surprising that 82 percent of respondents answered: Mr.
Smith, support every school. But the question effectively asks whether the public supports the idea of making every school excellent (whatever the cost) or just improving a few schools. In re ality, of course, that is a false dichotomy. There simply is not the money to in crease funding sufficiently in every neighborhood school to make it excel. Moreover, the question assumes that additional funding automatically leads to an improvement in qua l ity 11 Source: Mary Jane Whitelaw, Director of Data Management, and Jeanine Natriello, Special Assistant to the President, both of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 5 4 I I anotion shown to be.incorrect. What prqqonents of choice arg u e is that many factors lead to excellence in schools.-Allo~~ng piuentsto choose will foster good schools, whatever the total level of district spending. Merely increasing funding for all schools means badly run schools are treated just as generously as we l l-run schools. Moreover, by using the loaded term neighborhood schools to distinguish assigned schools from schools chosen by par ents, the Carnegie Foundation study muddies the fact that most schools of choice are also neighborhood schools proZ>leiri#2 7 The Carnegie poll results differ markedly from other polls. To the extent that they suggest that the American public is less than friendly to the con cept of school choice, the Carnegie polls are out of line with other mjor surveys. In 1992 alone, five ot h er reputable polls produced results that were dramatically different fn>m Carnegie s. Example: A Gallup poll, released September 17, shows that 78 percent of parents with children in school (70 percent of the public, 86 percent of blacks, and 84 percent o f Hispanics) favor a voucher system.
Example: In a Harris poll, published in Business Week on September 14,69 per cent of Americans think that Children should be able to attend any school they qualify for, including public, private or parochial schools, wi th govem ment money going to poor or middle-income children attending private or parochial schools. Example: A survey of African-Americans, published in July 1992, found over whelming support for ct i le survey was commissioned by Home Box Offce, Inc. and condui I L by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Stud ies, a Washington-based it. em4 organization specializing in minority issues.
The survey discovered that 87 pwnt of African-Americans who have heard about choice favor choice programs in educa tion, where parents can send their children to any public or private school that will accept them. Some 83 percent of African-Americans agree that choice in education will help poor children gain access to a better education Example: An Associated Press s u rvey, released in September 1992, shows that 63 percent of Americans are in favor of George Bushs GI Bill for Children The-proposal from the,Bush.Administration would have given $l,OOO to low and middle-income children to use at the school of their parent s choice, pub lic, private, or parochial Example: A poll of those parents living within the Los Angeles Unified School District, with children under 16 years of age, who currently send their children to public schools, found strong support for choice. The p oll was commissioned by the Reason Foundation, a California-based research organization, and con ducted by the polling fm of Arnold Steinberg and Associates. Some 52 percent of respondents said that they would leave public schools for private schools if g i ven the chance. Conducted in June, this Reason Foundation poll in cluded the costs of attending religious and secular private schools, and then 6askedqarentsjf they would.tresfer their children to a private school if they i could use a$2,600~vouch,i~tj:h~ l:lp pay for tuition: Significantly, over two thirds of African-American parents said they would leave the public schools.
Support for choice was greatest among households earning less than $25,000 a year. A staggering 64 percent of parents with pre-school age children not yet attending school said that they would place their children in a private school if they could use a $2,600 voucher. cARNEGIE Hows~*~NTAL-~A~s~~c NOTCRITICISM The Carnegie study found parental, teacher, and student satisfaction with ed ucation choice programs-only the administrztors said that choice did not lead to dramatic improvement.
The Carnegie study concluded at qmnts and students who do participate in school choice tend to feel good about heir decisions and like the programs in wh ich their children are enrolled.*12 The study continues School choice, it is argued, will not only energize schools but also empower parents. We found that those who do select their own schools are generally pleased with their decisions.
In rural Minnesot a, parents told us they welcomed the opportunity to move their children from small schools to larger ones that offered richer programs of study. In East Harlem, students said the teachers in their schools of choice really cared about them. They also liked working on themes of special interest, having smaller classes, and engaging in hands-on projects, all typical of the offerings in that districts specialized schools.
We met a troubled, angry boy named Jason who had been lost in a large, im personal city s chool but f ad d caring friend in the principal of East Harlems Bridge School. We rem& 1.1 iber 13-year-old Jennifer, who said her safe, orderly alternative school makes j JU f: cl nspectable. And a seventh-grade girl we met spoke positively about Uie sde r environment at her chosen Milwaukee school.
Teachers also expressed to us their satisfaction. Indeed, the success of choice programs often seems to have as much or more to do with teacher em powerment as with school selection. Science teacher Kathy Brown at the Pea body School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told us that the choice plan in that district has made her feel entrepreneurial and helped inspire her to devise creative new programs for her children. All of this suggests that, whatever the motivatio ns behind choice, the process tends to bring with it a sense of satisfac tion shared by many parents, students, and teachers, too-an outcome that should surely be applauded.
A high level of satisfaction was found among parents participating in the Milwauke e program Parents were asked how satisfied they were with the private schools their children were attending. On every measure-from aren- tal involvement to school discipline-their satisfaction level was high. IP 12 School Choice:.A Special Report, p. 22. 1 3 Ibid, pp. 22-23 7 CARNEGIES FAULTY.ANALYSIS OF EXISTING SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAMS The Carnegie study analyzes three types of choice: districtwide choice, statewide choice and private school choice. It reviews districtwide school choice programs, in which p a rents can choose any public school within a school district, in Montclair (New Jersey East Har lem (New York City and Cambridge (Massachusetts). The Carnegie study gives district wide choice programs generally a favorable rating. Carnegie is more critical of statewide where parents can choose any school within a state for their child, Carnegie examines Minnesota and Massa chusetts, while mentioning choice programs in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Col orado, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, O regon, Utah, and Washington. Finally, Car negie delivers a scathing analysis of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Parental Choice Program the only government-sponsored choice program to include private schools. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program gives parents w ith an income of less than 175 pextent of the pov erty level (less than $24,412 in 1992 for a family of four) the option of using a $2,739 voucher to enroll their children in one of eleven non-sectarian private schools participating in the program. The co st of each voucher is less than one-half of the $6,500 the Milwaukee public schools currently spend per child.
Carnegie makes numerous misleading assertions in its analysis of these choice programs.
It turns out that most of the assertions are based on information Carnegie obtained through its many interviews with school superintendents-the individuals with the most to lose if school choice succeeds. For example Carnegie Assertion: Many parents who d o decide to send their children to an- schboi .b oi& p>
fi Kits sc-*fihybr smewik thoice- p~m, 14 other school decide to do so for lionacademic reasons Fact: Carnegie makes this asscilioli despite the fact that its own poll reveals pre cisely the opposite. To be sure, when Carnegie asked, Why would you like to enroll your child in this other school? only fifteen percent of parents an swered academic quality But another 11 percent answered smaller classes 3 percent answered quality of teachers, 3 percent answe r ed more pro grams, 1 percent answered private school-better, and another 3 1 percent answered several of these above options. So 64 percent of parents actually told Carnegie that they transferred their child for an academic reason. Furthermore 30 percent o f those polled cited other factors in making their decision, but the Carnegie data do not disclose the nature of these other responses, and whether someof these, too, were academic reasons. The only nonacademic response listed by Carnegie was ReligiousTra i ning. As is evidenced by the followin table, this sole nonacademic reason received a mere six percent of re- sponses. A 14 Some states, such as Massachusetts, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah, allow districts to decide whether or not they wish to accept choice s t udents from other districts. The school districts cannot, however, keep their students from transferring out of their district 15 This.table was printed on page 104 of the draft of Carnegies study which was disseminated to select individuals with the pres s release. This table was omitted from the January report. Of fifteen tables from the poll questions, it 8guing in contradiction to its .ownpoll, that parents switch schools for primarily non-academic reasons, Came gie cites a 1990 study by Minnesota's Hou s e of Repre sentatives which concluded that families who participated bin:fie.state*s' open program in 1989-1990 se lected schools on the basis on convenience, rather than aca demics. But the study questioned school administra tors-not parents and students . Two other studies one conducted by the Wash ington, D.C.-b& Policy Studies Associates, Inc and a second conducted for the American Education Research Association, actually asked parents and stu dents why they switched schools. These found that students t r ansferred primarily for academic reasons.16 Carnegie Assertion Not all families have multiple school options available to them, and even when options are available the choice process tends to work much better for those who are most advantaged economically and education ally Fact: Far from being discriminatory, school choice actually turns out to be an equal izer. It offers all students, regardless of race or social status, the opportunity and financial means to pursue the education that they and their pare n ts deem appropriate. School choice programs help physically and mentally disabled children, as well as at-risk students, whose education today is effectively lim ited to whatever the public school system provides. The value of vouchers can reflect the hig h er cost of their education, so choice enables these children to at tend professionally run schools tailored to meet their special needs. Several states, including Minnesota and Washington, already pay private schools to ed ucate children with special need s.
Today's education system is very unequal. Families with the resources to pay for private schools already have choice. The less advantaged are trapped in failing school systems which, despite heavy spending, do not provide a quality education. The statis tics, including the polls summarized above, indicate that was the only one omitted 16 James Tenbusch Parent Choice Behavior Under Minnesota's Open Enrollment Program American Education Research Association, Washington, D.C., June. 1992; Michael Rubenstein , Rosalind Hamar, and Nancy Adelman Minnesota's Open Enrollment Option Policy Studies Associates, Inc Washington, D.C 1992 9th e.xastmajority. of low-income and minoriv families support school choice 1 and the evidenceishows [hat hareas'like Montclair,'Eas t .Haflem and"Cam bridge, school choice has led to desegregation, not increased segregation. l7 The evidence also demonshates that poor and disadvantaged parents are just as capable as better-educated and higher-income parents of distinguishing be tween goo d and bad schoals.18 The problem today is that poor parents are rarely given the opportunity to do so. The results in Milwaukee, East Harlem Montcl
yd CWbddge.(each described by Carnegie show that when par ents'have the opportunity and are given fullhform abon about the choices open to them, they choose well. The existing choice programs also demonstr ate that low-income and minority parents and children are overwhelmingly satisfied with the schools they choose. And the children's test scores, attitudes to w ards education, and behavior improve dramatically with choice A y rb i I I ._e i CARNEGIE ASSERTION Evidence about the effectiveness of private school choice, limited as it is, suggests that such a policy does not improve student achievement or stimulate s chool renewal Whatever else may be said of it, Milwaukee's plan has failed to demonstr ate that vouchers can in and of themselves, spark school improvement. A small number of students have been enabled to leave the city's public schools and they feel plea sed with the decision they have made. But no evidence can be found that the participating students made significant academic advances or that either the public or private schools have been revitalized by the transfers.
Further, Milwaukee simply does not ha ve enough non-sectarian private schools willing or able to participate in the voucher plan to make much differ ence to the vast majority of children FACT: Despite Camegie's assertions, based on a controversial evaluation of the program by John Witte, a.pr o fessor of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, e r xkee program has produced good academic results. According to ProTessc; PdU! Peterson, Director of the Center for her ican Political Studies at Harvard University Choice students g a ined more on a standardized reading test than did public school students, parents reported extraordinarily high sat isfaction with the choice schools, some four hundred new students entered the second year of the program, and even an evaluation bi ased-ag a inst finding-successurged continuation of the program.1g 17 Beatriz Chu Clewell and Myra Ficklin Joy, Evuluufion of the Monfcluir Mugnet School Sysrem (Princeton, NJ Educational Testing Service, 1987);George A. Mitchell The Milwaukee Parental Choice Progr am Wisconsin Policy Reseurch Insfifufe Report, Volume
5. November 1992; NormaTan The Cambridge Controlled Choice Program: Improving Educadon Equity ed Integration Education Policy Paper Number 4, The Manhattan Institute Center for Educational Inn ovation, G-.ober 1990 Model for Choice: A Report on Manhattan's District 4," Educution Policy Paper Number I ,The Man!rmJn Institute Center for Educational Innovation, June 1989 18 Ibid 19 Paul Peterson, Seeds of Crisis: A History cljrhe .Mil,rnukee Publi c Schools, 1920-1986(Milwaukee: University of 10 Thegrogram is alsogopular. Enrollment in 1992 was up 81 percent from i990 the.first year of the program and eaily gziins in reading scores are signifi cant The program has also focuses on low-income children having difficulty in the public schools: All par'kipating students are from low-income families and 96 percent are from minority groups. Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thomp son, working with a broad- based coalition and strong public support, has announced tha t he hopes to expand the program in 1993.
In citing the Milwaukee voucher as evidence that choice has failed to im prove education, Carnegie ignores the legislatwe restricbons hat hamper choice in that city. Children in Milwaukee may redeem their vouchers only at non-sectarian schools and these schools can accept vouchers for only 49 per cent of the students. This means there are fewer than 1,OOO available spaces in non-sectarian private schools in the city of Milwaukee.
Just as available spaces in the sch ools are limited, so are the number of chil dren who fill them. Only families with incomes less than 175 percent of the poverty level are eligible for vouchers, and the program is limited by statute to 1 percent of all public sckod c!dhn. With such severe limitations, only 632 students exercise choicc in 2 di:'Ji_ct of 97,000 students. So it is hardly surpris ing that the Milwaukee pi ximls have not been "revitalized" through the Program L i. e IC Y C I CARNEGIE ASSERTION The educational impact of school c h oice is ambigu ous at best. In some district-wide programs, a correlation may exist between choice and the improvement of students' academic performance. In statewide programs, no such connection could be found FACT: Choice has clearly improved student ac h ievement. In Montclair New Jersey, for example, lest scores have risen since the introduction of the school choice program. In 1987, the Educational Testing Service (ETS in its IowaTest of Basic Skills, fo; 73 that in 1976-1977, the year before im plement a tion of the choi p&i,.i, some 72 percent of minority and 29 percent of white eighb grade children scored below grade level. Similarly, 74 percent of minority ard 27 percent of white seventh graders in Montclair per formed below grade level. By 1986, howev er, only 52 percent of minori and 15 percent of white eighth grade students performed below grade level.
Scores on the New Jersey High School Proficiency Test (HSPT) rose from 81.8 in-reading and 66.8 inmath in 1984 to 87.3.h-reading and 76.0 in math in 19 86, the year of ETS rep0rt.2~ Some 80 percent of Montclair's high school graduates now go on to four year colleges. Their average college board scores 27 Wisconsin, 1992 p. 3
05. Dr. Peterson has written and published eleven books and 44 articles dealing largely with educational issues. He has also served as reviewer for I. fifteen different scholarly journals 20 Mitchell, op. cir p. 1 21 Clewell and Joy, op. cir..pp. 46-47 22 Ibid p 50. Clewell and Joy do not provide 1iSPT scms prior to 1984 11increased s tgaddygince 1976.and rose 18points in the 1990-1991 school year Likewise in East Harlem. In 1974, before the choice program, only 15 per cent of the students could read at or above grade level, and East Harlem ranked 31 out of 32 New York City districts i n reading and math scores. By 1988, the proportion of students reading at or above grade level quadrupled to 62.5 per cent, East Harlem ranked sixteenth, and twethirds of the students were r 23 alone; r 7 4 a reading at or aboye grade While the Cambridge, M assachusetts, school choice plan has never fo cused solely on test scores as the measure of quality of education, the data show that overall achievement has risen since the choice plan was put in place A school-by-school comparison of student performance in 1981-1982, when choice was first instituted, and 1985-1986, the last year that Cambridge used the same tests it used in the 1981-1982 year, showed definite improvement.
The average percentage of children passing Cambridge's Basic Skills Test rose from 72.8 percent to 87.0 percent in the five-year peri0d.2~ Significantly, the scores increased most rapidly at the schools with the previously lowest scores.
Th e gap between the percentage of students passing the Basic Skills Test at the lowest and highest individual schools narrowed from 39.5 percentage points in 1981-1982 to only 13.1 percentage points in 1985-86.26 At the high school level, between 1980-1981 a nd 1985-1986, the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) scores of Cambridge public high school students in creased 61 points, compared with the national increase of 16 points over the same five-year period. And between 198 1-1988, high school SAT scores in crea sed by 89 p0ints.2~ Findly, according to district records, almost two-thirds of Cambridge's high school gl Aduates (62.7 percent) were accepted to col lege Minnesota launched the first statewide school choice program in 1987.
Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas followed in 1989; Idaho, Utah, and Washington in 1990; and Massachusetts iF. 19
91. Since these programs have been in opera tion for only a few years, these is little information available to suggest whether choice has led to improved student achievement i n these states. What is clear is that both parents and students are happy with their schools of choice In Minnesota, for example, a survey by the state education department and the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs d i s covered that students who participated in Minnesota's school choice program reported increased educational aspirations, greater satisfaction with school, and 28 23 "Montclair School Chief Lauds "Choice" Program," The Szur-Ledger, May 22,1991 24 John Chu b b and Teny Moe, Politics, Markets and Americu's Schools (Washington, D.C The Bmkings 25 Tan, op. ciz p. 13 26 Ibid 27 Ibid,.p. 14 28 Ibid Institution, 1990 pp. 212 and 214 12 I greater success in.schoolr-I'heproportion of students reporting that they ex A petted to'graduate' from'high school ad attend college or avocational training program more than doubled after they participated in the Minnesota choice pro gram A November 1992 study by Policy Studies Associates, Inc a Washington D.C.-based research orga n ization, also discovered that Minnesota's open en- rollment choice program is having a positive effect on education in that state I BI;II The 7!,7 study funded by,,the.,federal ii and a. state education departments found that parents switched their childr e n primarily for academc reasons. The study also found that two-thirds of the students participating in the program were very sat isfied with their new schools, and that over 90 percent of students reported some level of satisfaction. Close to 90 percent o f students claimed that they were doing better acade~nically CARNEGIE ASSERTION School choice, to be successful, requires significant administrative and financial support. It is not a cheap path to educational re form FACT: If implemented properly, school c hoice actually saves taxpayers money. Av erage state spending on education is over $5,000 per child. Most voucher proposals advocate spending less than half this amount. In Milwaukee, for ex ample, the $2,739 vouchers constitute only 41 percent of the amo u nt that the state of Wisconsin allocates per pupil in public schools. The other 59 percent of the money allocated for a child who goes to a private school remains in the coffers of the public educatiop system. So choice gives the government more money, no t less, to spend an the remaining children. Indeed, a study conducted by the Reason FoundaGon concli.des that, with a voucher system in place for K-12 children, the state of California could save over $3 billion. cation at a faction of the amount of money that the public schools spend per pupil. One reason for the lower cost is the large bureaucracy which burdens public schools.
This bureaucracy absorbs over half the money that the states spend on education-leaving less than 50 percent for the teachers, pri ncipals The majority of private schools already are offering children a superior edu school buildings, and supplies 29 Lynn Olson, "Open-Enrollment Survey Finds Modest Effects in Minnesota Education Week, November 13,1992 30 Robert Genetski Private School s , Public Savings The Wall Street Jounuzl. July 8, 1992, editorial page; William Styring How Much Does It Take to Get I~ss Than $2 Billion Into the Classroom? Answer: More Than $5 Billion Indiana Policy Review Foundation, Fall 1992; Michael Tanner The Educ a tion Gap: How Georgia Education Dollars Are Spent," Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Febm,ary 1992; Dana Joel, Education Choice Closing the Gap in Student Performance, Virginia Citizens for a Sound Economy, October 1991, pp. 9-1 1 13 CARNEGIE ASSERTION F ew students have taken advantage of their new found i
t to s~t&'sthoo FACT: Open enrollment is gaining rapidly in popularity among parents and stu dents in every state in which it has been implemented. In Massachusetts, the number of students participating in the school choice program has tripled since last academic year, from 921 to more than 2,800 this year. In Iowa, more than 7,500 students have opted to attend public schools outside their home district crease this fall, and in Minnesota, the state whic h pioneered the open enrollment concept in 1987, the number of students participating has risen steadily, from 140 students in 1987 to more that 8,314 in 1991-1992.3' Offi cials of public school choice programs say the increases result from more parents an d students learning the details and potential benefits of the programs It takes a while for people to become knowledgeable about school choice and become comfortable with it," says Don Helvick, a consultant on open enroll ment to the Iowa education departm e nt. almost5Opercent~over-the previous.; Nebraska.Bas-seen..a .75 percent in THE BENEFITS OF CHOICE To be sure, school choice is not a panacea. But school choice activists have never claimed that choice will solve all education problems. Choice is, however , a catalyst that will lead to true education reform and innovation. Among the benefits, choice leads to J Better Schools. According to Mary Anne Raywind, Professor of Education at Hofstra University: 'Theie is abundant evidence that public school parents w ant school choice; that they iim- mcre satisfied with and have more confidence in schools that provide it; t!ia! i. are.it choice increases the commitment and cohesion within schools extending it; and hat these attributes combine to improve school quality and make schools more effective."32 J Improved Student Performance. Ninety percent of private schools, chosen freely by parents, spend under $2,500 to educate each child. This is less than one half of the $6,600 that the average public school spends. The s uccess of private schools in dicates how student achievement would improve under a choice program. James Coleman, of the University of Chicago, has found that private school students achieve at significantly higher levels than students attending public sc h ools. These differences persist even when socioeconomic variables (including income, occupa tion, education, religion, and race of parents) are statistically controlled. Coleman's research suggests that minority and disadvantaged students benefit even mor e from enrollment in private schools than other students and his conclusions are sup ported by the achievements of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Plan 33 31 Mark Walsh Three States See Dramatic Rise in Open-Enrollment Partkipation Education Week, October 28 32.JntellectualAmmunition Volume 1 Number 2 (July/August 1992 The Heartland Foundation, Chicago, Illinois 1992.p. 12 p 1 14 J Cost.Savings. Choice..programs save money. By.offering publicly funded scholar- ships Gr vouchers,studerils-c~ attendless-expensi v e~pubfic &ho61s or piivate schools that choose to opt out of the expensive public school bureaucracy. Since pri vate school tuition is often less than half the annual public school per-pupil expendi ture, every child receiving a scholarship saves taxpayer s money. Private school choice programs have set the value of the scholarship at between $l,OOO and $2,500 substantially less than the average expenditure per child and yet enough to attend the vast majority of private schools. Often the difference between the amount of the public school the child has left-leaving more money for the government school to educate fewer children. i i e voucher an8th~s~~smtlibcal.govenuneas perppil expenditure remains in the J Innovation. Choice wil! lead to decentralization an d free the unlimited potential of students, parents, teachers xipls and entire communities from expensive, bur densome bureaucracies. Choice makes schools accountable and regulations unneces sary-when parents have the opportunity to choose what is best for their individual child the public can rest assured that schools will be safe and effective. As James MacGuire from the Center for Social Thought states, When parents choose schools become more responsive to their constituencies and more autonomous from th e often strangling supervision of central CONCLUSION The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has a reputation as a leader in the area of education researcli. It is thus puzzling, after almost ninety distinguished years that Carnegie would n o w da to we its good name to advance a political agenda. It is dis turbing that the Carnegie Fc i Lon would fvst distribute a politically explosive and inac curate press release one week befoie 8 general election and then, months later, publish a study whi ch does not back up its own thesis. The Camegie study on school choice seriously undermines the Camegie Foundaticns fine reputation.
Allyson M. Tucker Manager, Center for Educational Policy The Heritage Foundation 33 Ibid 34 The Carnegie Assault on School Choice, The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 1992 15