07 May 2007

Where Are My School Vouchers?

Last week, The Stonemason asked "Where are my school vouchers?"

Echoing Graeme Leach's article from the March edition of The Difference, calling for the introduction of education vouchers, the current edition of The Economist reports, "New research shows that parental choice raises standards—including for those who stay in public schools."

Citing studies from Columbia, America, and Sweden, the evidence shows that children who receive vouchers are:

  • 15-20% more likely to finish secondary education,
  • five percentage points less likely to repeat a grade, and
  • much more likely to take college entrance exams
— and all this even though the state spent less per pupil than it would have done had the children been educated in normal state schools. Crucially, it is not just the pupils at the private schools that benefit as when "public schools must compete for their students with schools that accept vouchers, their performance improves."

The Economist: Got School Choice?More than fifty years after Milton Friedman originally proposed the idea, when might we see the separation of the financing and administration of schooling in Britain?  Once the Conservative Party feels that it has convinced the electorate that it is the party that understands their needs and concerns, perhaps we can hope that it will also be the party that is able to convince them that ideas Labour might caricature as "cuts" or "elitist" are in fact in everybody's best interests.  What we need in the post-Blair era is a new approach to political leadership in which politicians are brave enough to argue their case and engage in intelligent debate — and so influence, instead of simply following, public opinion.


Anonynurse said...

Blair claimed to be giving parents and patients choice, but delivered only the illusion of choice, as the internet's favourite NHS Blog Doctor describes today in The Illusion of Choice : Grumble, Humble, Mumble & Bumble