The election of Donald Trump as president and subsequent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education have thrust private school choice plans into the spotlight of K-12 education policy. Details of the federal government’s plans for private school choice remain unclear, although the Trump administration’s hopes are becoming clearer: For example, Trump’s budget outline calls for $250 million to fund a private school choice program, and there is continued speculation about a federal tax-credit scholarship program.
In a new piece, “Why managed competition is better than a free market for schooling,” Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Douglas N. Harris considers the merits of a “free market for schooling” with large-scale voucher programs. After reviewing the related conceptual and empirical arguments, Harris argues against large-scale voucher or tax-credit scholarship programs with minimal government oversight. In its place, he proposes an alternative approach to school choice policy—one he calls “managed competition.”
Harris’s managed competition approach emphasizes parental choice coupled with an active government role in assuring quality. Defining the concept of managed competition in this report, he anchors the definition in what he calls the five key elements of managed competition: accountability, accessibility, transparency, coordination, and enforcement. Harris contends that a system of managed competition, with varying designs in different types of locations, can provide the structure necessary to make the very unusual schooling market work for all children.
The full piece is available online and via PDF download here.
The Brown Center Chalkboard launched in January 2013 as a weekly series of new analyses of policy, research, and practice relevant to U.S. education.
In July 2015, the Chalkboard was re-launched as a Brookings blog in order to offer more frequent, timely, and diverse content. Contributors to both the original paper series and current blog are committed to bringing evidence to bear on the debates around education policy in America.
Esther Care, an education expert at the Brookings Institution, calls the A-F grading system “nonsense.” “Grades are mere proxies for what we value. What we actually value is our children being prepared for the future,” she said. “We need to find ways in educational assessment to convey information about the degree to which they are ready to venture out and to deal constructively with the huge challenges posed by our 21st century.