Florida’s Voucher Vindication

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from The Wall Street Journal,

New data shows how school choice lifts college prospects.

One issue that helped Florida Governor Ron DeSantis beat progressive Andrew Gillum in November’s gubernatorial nail-biter was his support for the state’s private school voucher program. To understand why that mattered, consider a report this week on the link between K-12 school choice and college success.

Nearly 100,000 low-income students can attend private school in Florida under its Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) program, and 68% of the students are black or Hispanic. When the Urban Institute examined limited data in 2017, it found that school-voucher alumni weren’t much more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees at Florida’s state universities than were their public-school peers. Some critics seized on this as evidence of school-choice failure.

Now comes new evidence from the Urban Institute, which this time examined a larger data set of some 89,000 students. The researchers compared those who used school vouchers to public-school students with comparable math and reading scores, ethnicity, gender and disability status. The new research also included students who attended private and out-of-state colleges and universities in addition to Florida schools.

High school voucher students attend either two-year or four-year institutions at a rate of 64%, according to the report, compared to 54% for non-voucher students. For four-year colleges only, some 27% of voucher students attend compared to 19% for public-school peers. Voucher students also appear to have broader post-high school options. About 12% of voucher students attended private universities, double the rate of non-voucher students.

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