School Voucher Programs and the Effects of a Little Healthy Competition

DAVID FIGLIO, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University NADA EISSA, Georgetown University GROVER J. WHITEHURST, Brookings Institution JANE HANNAWAY, Urban Institute:

Do voucher programs force public schools into a zero-sum game by redirecting public funds and promising students to private schools? Or do school-choice options spur healthy competition by pressuring public schools to improve? Using data from Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, David Figlio of Northwestern University argues that public schools improve their performance when faced with the prospect of losing students to nearby private schools through voucher programs, and that greater competition results in greater gains in public school students’ test scores. In other words, the competitive effects of school choice could create a system where everybody wins.