Intersection Between No Child Left Behind & School Vouchers?

More Americans think the No Child Left Behind Act[ (“NCLB”)], which has governed federal education grants to public schools for a decade, has made education worse rather than better, by 29% to 16%.

via Gallup. While President Obama’s education policy moves away from NCLB

his administration remains opposed to the Opportunity Scholarship program in Washington, D.C., which lets students—mostly low-income and African-American—use a voucher to attend a private school.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will reconsider his position on vouchers now that we have for the first time tracked the impact of a voucher program all the way from kindergarten (in 1997) to college enrollment (in 2011). Our study compared students who won a voucher lottery with students who didn’t—the only difference between the groups was the luck of the draw, the gold standard in research design.

The study shows that an African-American student who was able to use a voucher to attend a private school was 24% more likely to enroll in college than an African-American student who didn’t win a voucher lottery.

via Hoover Institution. Indeed, Obama has softened his stance on the D.C. voucher program.

One popular syllogistic explanation is that teachers unions oppose vouchers for various reasons; teachers unions have historically supported democrats and endorsed Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections; therefore, so the argument goes, the President’s defunding of an effective school voucher program in D.C. was an appeasement to the teachers unions. While this argument may have some merit, it suffers from multiple fallacies, the most severe of which is its affirmation of the consequent. It is true that there are principled explanations for the President’s opposition to school vouchers; nevertheless, Obama’s vacillation suggests a political reality rather than an ideological one.



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