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The Education Gap

The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools

William G. Howell
Paul E. Peterson
Patrick J. Wolf
David E. Campbell
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 2
Pages: 323
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  • Book Info
    The Education Gap
    Book Description:

    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

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-3686-8
    Subjects: Education, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  5. 1 School Choice and American Democracy
    (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 twentieth-century political discourse and social practice. Yet the tapestry that history has woven over and under these strands, though rich and colorful, remains unfinished, very much a work in progress.

    The strongest—and greatest—of these strands is liberty. It was for liberty that a revolution was fought, a civil war waged, and a cold war endured. Early on, Americans freed themselves from rigid social hierarchies,...

  6. 2 Evaluating Voucher Programs
    (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 for low-income families began in Milwaukee, Cleveland, New York City, Dayton, Charlotte, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Washington, D.C., and the state of Florida. In addition, another private program offered nearly 40,000 vouchers to students across the nation. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of students using vouchers to attend private...

  7. 3 Seeking and Using a Voucher
    (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 of the field have a better chance of beating the competition. Charities that hire capable managers generally excel when others falter.

    Most Americans accept skimming as a fact of life. Few would deny that excellence should be rewarded in the workplace. But when it comes to primary and secondary education, many Americans profess a...

  8. 4 Attending Urban Schools
    (pp. 90-113)

    At Welton Academy—the all-boys preparatory school portrayed in the 1985 movieDead 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.” In the library at Mailor-Callow Prep School—the elite Manhattan private school depicted in the 2000 movieFinding Forrester—portraits of “the greats” serve as a continual reminder of the intellectual legacy that its students have inherited. Latin, chemistry, and philosophy instructors stride through marble foyers wearing bow ties, sweater vests, and tweed...

  9. 5 Social Consequences
    (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. Their clearest impact, no matter the size, occurs in the immediate vicinity, at the point where they touch the lives of their subjects. Still, interventions may also have ripple effects—secondary consequences for related institutions and practices and, possibly,...

  10. 6 The Urban Test Score Gap
    (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, and abided by stricter dress codes. Communication between their school and parents was more extensive. Meanwhile, students in public schools enjoyed more physical resources and academic programs, and they were subject to closer supervision when they moved throughout the school building. Still other aspects of schooling changed hardly at all. Suspension rates, parents’ involvement in their child’s...

  11. 7 Satisfaction with Urban Schools
    (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 rather than the quality of public education nationwide. Fully 47 percent of those surveyed gave their local schools a grade of A or B. Among parents, approval ratings rose even further—an impressive 70 percent gave the school their oldest child attended an A or B.¹

    This pattern of assessment applies...

  12. 8 Vouchers and Urban Schools
    (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. They also had simpler facilities; for example, they were less likely to have a nurse’s office, a gymnasium, or a cafeteria. Their resources were more limited, their expenditures were lower, and their teachers were paid less. Yet, on average, private schools tended to have smaller classes and their educational climate seemed more conducive to learning....

  13. Appendixes
    (pp. 209-224)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 225-266)
  15. Index
    (pp. 267-275)