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The Education Gap

Vouchers and Urban Schools

William G. Howell and Paul E. Peterson

Publication Year: 2006

The voucher debate has been both intense and ideologically polarizing, in good part because so little is known about how voucher programs operate in practice. In The Education Gap, William Howell and Paul Peterson report new findings drawn from the most comprehensive study on vouchers conducted to date. Added to the paperback edition of this groundbreaking volume are the authors' insights into the latest school choice developments in American education, including new voucher initiatives, charter school expansion, and public-school choice under No Child Left Behind. The authors review the significance of state and federal court decisions as well as recent scholarly debates over choice impacts on student performance. In addition, the authors present new findings on which parents choose private schools and the consequences the decision has for their children's education. Updated and expanded, The Education Gap remains an indispensable source of original research on school vouchers. "This is the most important book ever written on the subject of vouchers." —John E. Brandl, dean, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota "The Education Gap will provide an important intellectual battleground for the debate over vouchers for years to come." —Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University "Must reading for anyone interested in the battle over vouchers in America." —John Witte, University of Wisconsin

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. xi-xv

In the fall of 1990, the nation’s first publicly funded urban school voucher program was launched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Disturbed by rising dropout rates and a long history of student underachievement in Milwaukee’s public schools, an unusual alliance of conservative Republicans ...

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pp. xvii-xix

During the past six years, we have profited from the advice and assistance of a large number of talented, hardworking individuals. To begin, we wish to thank the principals, teachers, and staff of the private schools in New York City, Dayton, and Washington, D.C., ...

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Chapter 1: School Choice and American Democracy

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pp. 1-27

Liberty, Equality, Education—the very woof of America’s social fabric. All three had been spun into sturdy strands by the time the Constitution was ratified, laid down after the Civil War, and tightened by twentiethcentury political discourse and social practice. ...

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Chapter 2: Evaluation Voucher Programs

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pp. 28-55

In 1990, the only data available on school choice came from an experimental public program conducted during the early 1970s in Alum Rock, California; and even this program did not give families a voucher to attend private schools. But in the next few years, new publicly and privately funded voucher programs ...

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Chapter 3: Seeking and Using a Voucher

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pp. 56-89

Skimming—the practice of recruiting and selecting talented, committed people for whatever the task at hand—is part and parcel of modern life. And for good reason. Restaurants that have lively, intelligent servers tend to thrive. High-tech firms that employ hard-working personnel with a sophisticated knowledge ...

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Chapter 4: Attending Urban Schools

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pp. 90-113

At Welton Academy—the all-boys preparatory school portrayed in the 1985 movie Dead Poets Society—bagpipes play while students with names like Knox, Cameron, Neal, and Todd shuffle into the auditorium at the beginning of each semester to recite the 150-year-old institution’s motto: “Tradition, honor, discipline, excellence.” ...

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Chapter 5: Social Consequences

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pp. 114-139

Big rocks make big splashes. The exact size of the splash depends also on the speed at which the rock is traveling and the depth of the pond. But one thing is for certain: the impact is greatest at the point where the rock strikes the water—the undulating waves gradually fade away. And so it is with most social interventions. ...

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Chapter 6: The Urban Test Score Gap

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pp. 140-167

Switching to a private school changed the educational experiences of inner-city low-income students in important ways. Compared with their peers in public schools, voucher students were taught in smaller classes located in much smaller schools. They received more homework assignments, faced fewer disruptions, ...

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Chapter 7: Satisfaction with Urban Schools

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pp. 168-184

Most Americans appear to have serious reservations about the current state of public education. Eighty percent of all adults interviewed in a 2000 national Gallup poll gave public schools a grade of C or lower. Their assessments change, however, when they are asked about the schools in their community ...

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Chapter 8: Vouchers and Urban Schools

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pp. 185-208

Our evaluations of the national Children’s Scholarship Fund voucher program and the programs in New York City, Dayton, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio have revealed a generally consistent set of findings—many positive, many neutral, a few negative. Private schools were smaller than public ones. ...

Appendix A: Response Rates

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pp. 209-216

Appendix B: Construction of Survey Indexes

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pp. 217-219

Appendix C: Test Scores of Applicants to Voucher Programs

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pp. 220-221

Appendix D: The Noisy Data Problem

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pp. 222-224


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pp. 225-266


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pp. 267-275

E-ISBN-13: 9780815736868
E-ISBN-10: 081573686X

Page Count: 323
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: revised edition