School Choice Successes Abroad
There’s been an interesting debate going on about school choice. A persistent theme of the school choice critics is that a free market in education is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy that’s never been tried in the real world, and that the private schools couldn’t expand to meet the increased demand from a wide-spread choice program. Over at the Cato blog, Andrew Coulson sets the record straight:
There are two well-established nationwide school voucher programs, one in the Netherlands, the other in Chile. The first was created in 1917, the second in 1982. In both cases, the supply of private schools rose dramatically to meet demand. Roughly three quarters of Dutch students are now enrolled in private schools. In Chile, private sector enrollment doubled within the first decade and passed the 50 percent mark in December of 2005.
Sweden and Denmark enacted voucher programs more recently, and both are seeing the creation of new private schools as a result. Swedish private sector enrollment rose from 1 percent to 10 percent of the student population in a decade, and continues to rise. I discuss this issue at greater length in my chapter in the Cato book: What America Can Learn from School Choice in other Countries.
Turning to Mr. Rotherham’s assertion, I pointed out at our forum that there are vibrant, unregulated, rapidly growing education markets all over the world. In some areas, such as the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, these are niche markets ? mainly after-school tutoring. In other parts of the globe, particularly South Asia and Africa, they are mainstream elementary and secondary schools.
It’s frustrating that special interest groups in Missouri spend so much money opposing a school reform strategy that worked so well around the world.