System Wide Effects of School Choice Programs
Friday, November 3, 2017: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Gold Coast (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Jane Lincove, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Panel Chairs: Katharine Strunk, University of Southern California
Discussants: Nathan Barrett, Tulane University and Jonathan N. Mills, University of Arkansas
Market-based reforms have changed the rules of how public education is delivered in many US cities. Today, over 2 million children attend more than 6,800 charter schools, and many more use vouchers to attend private schools. In each of these settings, administrative control of public education is shifted from the bureaucracy of school districts to private nonprofit or for-profit management. Based on market theories of economics, these reforms are intended to meaningfully transform the provision of public education to take advantage of innovation, flexibility, efficiency, and productive competition of the marketplace. Critics warn that this transformation could also include damaging effects to equity, access, and quality, as well as the decline of traditional public schools. What both sides agree on is the expectation of substantial, systemic changes in public education as a result of privatization and decentralization. The purpose of this panel is to examine how market reforms have changed public education in practice, compared to the expectations of market theory and its critics. The papers address varied elements of public education systems – including finance, human capital, equity, and productivity with empirical analysis drawn from the nation’s most market-oriented school districts and states. The results reflect the effects of decades of implementation of market-based reforms. As a group, these papers provide a foundation to advance public discourse of education policy with new empirical evidence on the systemic changes that occur with market-based reform.