Steadfast public opposition, educator advocacy, and a meager (at best) track record has slowed down the push to expand school vouchers nationwide. Still, voucher advocates soldier on, buoyed by Betsy DeVos’ determination and a rebranding effort (“education savings accounts,” “tuition tax credits”) designed to make siphoning public money for private school tuition more politically appealing. Then there’s the apparent public consensus that private schools are superior to public schools. That being the case, so the argument goes, how can we deny low-income families the opportunity to send their children to these institutions?
Putting aside the fact that voucher programs are often expanded to include affluent families, the assumption that private schools are the better option for students from disadvantaged communities is misleading and “potentially harmful,” says Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.
Pianta is co-author with research associate Arya Ansari of a new study that concludes the benefits of private schools are being oversold.