Report Card on American Education

Economically disadvantaged inner-city children would face more than enough challenges in life even if they had abundant access to the nation’s most effective schools. Instead, we find districts still largely wedded to unionized industrial factory models. Spending is up, but low achievement remains common. Dropout rates remain high, and waiting lists at the still far-too-scarce high-quality charter schools remain long. Policymakers have been making changes and showing progress with them, but the average urban student may have yet to notice that anything has changed. Policymakers should, not ignore the continuing success of voucher programs. High-quality random assignment studies show a very impressive track record of improving graduation and college attendance rates for disadvantaged urban youth. Policymakers need to seek out as many seats in high-quality schools as possible—and some of them are in private schools.

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