Monday, May 5, 2008

Competition = Success for Disabled Students

Researchers Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters weigh in in today's East Valley Tribune on how Arizona's voucher program has benefited the state's special needs population by creating competition between public and private schools. According to their research, special needs students who stay in traditional pubic schools benefit from the voucher program, because their schools are motivated to improve in order to retain students.

Greene and Winters's most recent project measured the impact that a similar voucher program had on public schools in Florida and was sponsored by the Manhattan Institute. The researchers employed their Florida research to analyze Arizona's program.

Initially, I am reluctant to agree with Greene and Winters. After all, just because vouchers have had a positive impact in Florida doesn't necessarily mean that they have been equally effective in Arizona. One must be careful about such slippery reasoning - I prefer hard data.

However, I would say that there's no reason why Greene and Winters can't use the same methods to evaluate Arizona's voucher program - and they should.

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