Educational policy in a democracy goes beyond teaching literacy and numeracy. It also supports teaching moral reasoning, political tolerance, respect for diversity, and citizenship. Education policy should encourage liberty and equality of opportunity, hold educational institutions accountable, and be efficient. School Choice Tradeoffs examines the tradeoffs among these goals when government affords parents the means to select the schools their children attend.
Godwin and Kemerer compare current policy that uses family residence to assign students to schools with alternative policies that range from expanding public choice options to school vouchers. They identify the benefits and costs of each policy approach through a review of past empirical literature, the presentation of new empirical work, and legal and philosophic analysis.
The authors offer a balanced perspective that goes beyond rhetoric and ideology to offer policymakers and the public insight into the complex tradeoffs that are inherent in the design and implementation of school choice policies. While all policies create winners and losers, the key questions concern who these individuals are and how much they gain or lose. By placing school choice within a broader context, this book will stimulate reflective thought in all readers.
R. Kenneth Godwin is Marshall Rausch Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Frank Kemerer is Regents Professor-Emeritus of Education Law and Administration at the University of North Texas and founder of the Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest. He lives in San Diego, California.
This is a very strong book in an important field—possibly made all the more so by the election of Governor Bush to the Presidency and the empirical grounding of the book in San Antonio, Texas, data. . . . I am confident that the President and his advisors could learn a lot from this book, and it just could be the lever to convince the President’s team to embrace new policy details—details that might pave the way for a more widespread adoption of school choice experiments.
~Stephen D. Sugarman
Godwin and Kemerer’s School Choice Tradeoffs is probably the best overview and appraisal of the school choice issue yet written. It is comprehensive in scope, acquainting readers with every important aspect of the subject, and exploring many of them in great depth. The authors pull together a vast range of scholarly literature and do an admirable job of organizing it, making sense of it, and putting it to use in building their own perspective on the issue. . . . Their treatment comes off as objective and thorough, one that readers can have confidence in and learn from.
~Terry M. Moe
School Choice Tradeoffs sets the issue of educational choice in a very broad context. The issues and tradeoffs are set within a carefully drawn theory of education. The authors rigorously explore the legal, social science, and policy issues surrounding choice, ending with a fascinating and detailed proposal to expand educational choice options and increase equity. This is a must-read book for any serious student of educational reform in America.
1. School Choice Options and Issues: An Overview
Why Change Current Policies?
Why Use School Choice to Promote Equity?
Types of School Choice
Major Issues in the Choice Debate
Liberal Democratic Theory and Education Policy
Parental Rights and Equality of Opportunity
The Constitutionality of Vouchers and Tax Credits
The Economics of Choice
Accountability versus Autonomy
Designing a Voucher Program That Promotes Equity
2. The Outcomes of School Choice Policies
Why Proponents Expect Choice to Increase Academic Outcomes
The Effects of Competition
Increased Parental Involvement and Better Matching of Students and Schools
Democratic Control and Bureaucratic Inefficiencies
The Particular Problems Facing Inner-City Schools
Why Opponents Expect Choice to Lower Academic Outcomes
Empirical Hypotheses Concerning the Impacts of Choice
School Choice and Segregation
How Do Parents Choose?
Do Private Schools Teach Public Values?
The Effects of Choice on Teachers and Principals
The Effects of Choice on Parents
The Effects of Choice on Academic Outcomes
The Effects of Competition
Comparing Public and Private Schools
High School and Beyond
Results from Other National Databases
Evaluations of Existing Choice Programs
Privately Funded Voucher Experiments
The Effects of Choice on Children Who Remain Behind
Summary and Conclusions
3. Political Theory and School Choice (coauthor: Richard Ruderman)
Liberal Arguments That Education Is in the Private Sphere
Liberal Arguments for Including Education in the Public Sphere
John Dewey and Progressive Liberalism
Sharing Educational Responsibility: The Ideas of Amy Gutmann
Diversity or Autonomy
Comprehensive Liberalism versus Political Liberalism
School Choice and Communitarian Thought
4. Parent Rights, School Choice, and Equality of Opportunity (coauthor: Jennifer L. Kemerer)
Parent Rights in Education
How Fundamental Are Parent Rights?
Coupling Parent Rights with Free Exercise of Religion
Racial and Economic Segregation in Traditional Public Schools
Continuing Inequalities in Public Schools
Racial and Economic Inequalities in Choice Schools
Choice Schools and Ethnic Sorting
Racial Balance Measures
Achieving Diversity without Unconstitutional Discrimination against Parents
The Case for Diversity
Proxies for Race
5. Vouchers and Tax Benefits: Tradeoffs between Religious Freedom and Separation of Church and State
A Tale of Two Judges
Judge Higginbotham and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Judge Sadler and the Cleveland Scholarship Program
Vouchers, Tax Benefits, and the Federal Constitution
Channeling Money to Sectarian Private Schools
Channeling Money to Parents and Students
The Significance of Federalism
Vouchers and State Constitutions
Prohibition on Vouchers
No Direct or Indirect Aid to Sectarian Private Schools
What Is "Indirect Aid"?
Funding for Public Schools Only
Public Purpose Doctrine
No Anti-Establishment Provision
Supportive Legal Climate
Ambiguous Constitutional Terminology
Absence of Authoritative Case Law
Pending State Litigation
Implications for Voucher Program Design
6. The Economics of Choice
Tiebout Sorting and the Median Voter Theorem
Funding Public Schools
Present Funding Patterns within States
Financing Public Choice Programs
Promoting Efficiency in the Production of Education
The Apparent Decline in the Efficiency of Public Schools
Possible Reasons for the Decline in Productive Efficiency
Changes in Student Population
The Cost of Educating Students with Disabilities
Privatization and Vouchers
Arguments That Vouchers Will Increase the Cost of Education
Arguments That Vouchers Will Decrease Educational Costs by Increasing Efficiency
Regulation versus Incentives
Regulating Class Size Reductions (CSR)
Equity Considerations and Voucher Policies
The Impact of Vouchers on Public Schools
7. School Choice Regulation: Accountability versus Autonomy
Are Markets Preferable to Democratic Control?
Classical Economic Theory
New Institutional Economics
Legal Constraints on Institutional Autonomy
State Constitutions, State Regulation, and State Action
Unconstitutional Delegation Law
State Statutes, Administrative Regulations, Charters, and Contracts
School Choice Accountability: Michigan's Public School Academies
Lessons from Privatization of Prisons, Public Housing, and Special Education
Privatization of Prisons
Privatization of Public Housing
Contracting-Out Special Education to Private Schools
Vouchers and Private School Regulation
Implications for Policymaking
8. The Politics of Choice and a Proposed School Choice Policy
Political Forces That Oppose Expanding School Choice
Producers of Public Education and Their Organizations
Liberal and Minority Interest Groups
Political Forces Supporting Increased School Choice
Attributes of an Equitable and Efficient Policy Proposal
A Proposal to Expand School Choice
Additional Measures to Assist Low-Income Students and New Scholarship Schools
Discussion of the Tradeoffs We Made
Vouchers for All Income Levels and a Quota for Low-Income Students
Allowing Schools to Charge Families Additional Tuition and Fees
Additional Benefits and Costs of the Proposed Policy
The Political Feasibility of the Proposed Policy
Charter Schools and Alternative Choice Proposals
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