27 August, 2012

School vouchers and college enrollment

There's an interesting study out from Harvard and Brookings using a randomized experiment to measure how vouchers for elementary students to private schools in the 1990s affect their enrollment in college.  Apparently, there's no significant change in overall college enrollment, but among African-American students the effect is large, statistically significant, and positive--a twenty-four percent increase.  It is also associated with significant increases for full-time college attendance, enrollment in selective four-year schools, and enrollment in private four-year colleges.
education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Evidently, as experiments like Head Start showed several years ago, a little bit of help at an early age can make a major difference for some people later on.  How interesting that one of the better ways to help African-American students get an education--and a better life--is to get them out of the private public schools.

My mother is a retired public school teacher.  My father was a principal in St. Louis, eventually ending up in charge of the school for juveniles held in jail.  I know how hard they worked.  I know the horror stories they'd bring home.  I also know--as they did--that the present system has some fundamental problems.  It tells you something that my Dad was happiest at the prison school: he found it better for the students, and more conducive to learning, than the standard public school.  He even had students who admitted to getting arrested in order to get back into his school.  What does that tell us about the public alternatives?

No comments: