Monday, September 12, 2016

A New Design for Education in America By Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D.

Education, being one of the top issues debated by the presidential candidates, is very much on the minds of all Americans. In an important new book, education reform expert Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D., author of FAILURE: The Federal Misedukation of America's Children, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute shows us what the problems are and offers sound strategies toward improving on the failures of America's educational system.

Both presidential candidates are beginning to release comprehensive K-12 policy plans.  Last Thursday, Donald Trump gave a speech in Ohio on education laying out all the opportunities he will be proposing for parents to be given better and higher quality school choice.  Hillary Clinton has taken on education as a top priority of her campaign.

Both campaigns would benefit greatly from Dr. Alger's new book.  She writes, as an example, that Milwaukee's Parental Choice program (launched in 1990) was the country's first modern private school parental choice program. It began the modern era's parental choice movement. Since then Wisconsin has enacted three additional voucher scholarship programs. These programs serve low-income and special needs students. Wisconsin has also enacted a private school tuition income tax credit/deduction.

Dr. Alger says If we want to improve education, we need to reduce segregation, improve student outcomes and stop rationing education based on where children's parents can afford to live.  We need to expand these successful parental choice programs that empower parents, not the so-called experts whose policies have contributed to the status quo. Scientific research has shown that disadvantaged students participating in Milwaukee's flagship scholarship program had higher reading and math scores than similar non-scholarship students - and the program costs a fraction of what it does to send those same students to public schools. What's more, Milwaukee Public Schools responded positively to competition for students and associated funding.

In FAILURE, you will learn:
  • that more than half of the U.S. offers families private school choice options;
  • that school choice improves public schools;
  • that more parental choice means more hope for children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • that Education Saving Accounts (ESAs) would allow families school choice for their children;
  • about empirical research literature on the effects of school choice; and
  • about the origins of the Milwaukee parental choice program.
FAILURE shows federal involvement in education has been an epic failure of myriad ineffective educational programs, a failure of massive wasteful spending, and a failure of the Department of Education to be a partner with state and local governments, rather than a boss. Fortunately, Dr. Alger's rigorous assessment enables her to identify and articulate the best strategy for success - namely, decentralizing education policy by ending federal involvement, returning power to state and local governments, and implementing parental choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D., is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the author of more than forty education policy studies. She has provided expert affidavits for the successful legal defense of educational choice programs for low-income, foster-care and disabled children. Her work was also used in the successful legal defense of tax-credit scholarship programs in the U.S. Supreme Court.