Great Lakes Center for Education, Research and Practice: Two reports promoting school choice as a means to economically develop low-income neighborhoods offer little guidance for policymakers or practitioners, review finds

Contact:
Jennifer Jellison Holme, (512) 475-9398, [email protected]
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, [email protected]

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 20, 2017) — Earlier this year two organizations, EdChoice and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), released reports suggesting that expanded school choice would promote economic development in economically distressed urban areas. The EdChoice report was a case study on the relocation decisions of families in an urban charter school, while the AEI report calls for a voucher-like program to spur economic development by luring higher income families into neighborhoods. An academic review of the reports finds that both reports make unsupported claims that rely on flawed logic and data.

The reports, Renewing our Cities: A Case Study on School Choice’s Role in Urban Renewal and CPR Scholarships: Using Private School Choice to Attack Concentrated Poverty, Crime, and Unemployment, were reviewed by Jennifer Jellison Holme and Emily Germain, University of Texas Austin, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

While the EdChoice report is an empirical paper, the reviewers find that the report fails to collect and analyze data related to the report’s causal assertion that economic development resulted from the establishment of a charter school. Meanwhile, Holme and Germain find that the AEI report’s claims are unsupported by existing research. That report only consists of a hypothetical proposal for a voucher program aimed at promoting economic development in high-poverty neighborhoods.

The reviewers also note that both reports use selective research evidence and overlook other studies that contradict their claims.

In their conclusion, Holme and Germain say: “the reports offer little guidance for policymakers seeking to reform urban schools, to support low-income students, or to uplift urban neighborhoods.”

Find the review on the GLC website:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the EdChoice report at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Renewing-Our-Cities-by-Bartley-Danielsen-David-Harrisson-and-Jing-Zhao.pdf

Find the AEI report at:
http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CPR-Scholarships.pdf

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu