NEPC Reviewers Find a Texas-Sized Overreach

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Scholarly analysis concludes that a recent report, which claims economic benefits from a proposed school choice plan, misapplies research findings

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-texas-economy-school-choice

The report applies simplistic economic logic to education and fails to consider all but an extremely narrow and inappropriate slice of research...

A report claiming that a proposed Texas statewide voucher plan would boost graduation rates and student achievement, and hence the state’s economy, “represents a severe overreach” in its interpretation of research, according to a new NEPC review published today.

In contrast to the report’s claims, expert reviewers Christopher Lubienski and Ee-Seul Yoon point out that the proposed voucher measure “would allow families with higher incomes to supplement their children’s education even further, while fewer resources would be available for those children from low-income families.”

Lubienski and Yoon reviewed "The Texas Economy and School Choice" for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Dr. Lubienski is professor of education policy and Director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Yoon is a postdoctoral fellow at U of I, under the auspices of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The report they reviewed, commissioned by the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation and written and published by Arthur Laffer, discusses a proposed Taxpayer Savings Grant Program in Texas that would set up a statewide voucher plan. The plan would pay private school tuition for every student entering school in Texas for the first time or who attended a public school the year before. Laffer is best known as a primary architect of “supply side economics” and the “Laffer Curve,” which contends that cutting taxes will increase tax revenues by spurring economic growth.

The new Laffer report argues that the voucher program would raise graduation rates, improve achievement in school, and thereby increase human capital. It predicts that by doing so, the program would raise wages and working family incomes, improving Texas economic growth the process.

In their review, Lubienski and Yoon highlight two “profoundly problematic” aspects of the report. First, it makes poorly supported assertions about the educational benefits of school choice, going well beyond what research has actually found and misapplying what research does say. In addition, it employs economic estimations that are over-generalized and “heavily biased towards those families who already have the wealth to choose and relocate.”

In short, the review concludes, “the report applies simplistic economic logic to education and fails to consider all but an extremely narrow and inappropriate slice of research on education, making the report unsuitable as a basis for public policy decisions.”

Find the review by Christopher Lubienski and Ee-Seul Yoon on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-texas-economy-school-choice.

Find "The Texas Economy and School Choice," written and published by Arthur Laffer and commissioned by the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on the web at:
http://www.texaspolicy.com/center/education-freedom/reports/texas-economy-and-school-choice.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

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William J. Mathis

Christopher Lubienski
National Education Policy Center (NEPC)
since: 03/2011
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