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Senate Ends Unsuccessful DC Religious School Voucher Experiment

In a roll-call vote yesterday, the U.S. Senate ended the federally-mandated voucher program for Washington DC called the “DC Opportunity Scholarships.” In this voucher program, public money was taken out of public schools and given to private schools — 82% of which were religious schools in 2009. Studies by the Institute for Education Sciences found no difference in math or reading scores between voucher students and public school students in 2007 and no difference in math or reading scores between the groups in 2008. In 2009, there was no difference in math scores at all between voucher students and public school students, and while there was a positive difference in reading scores for voucher students, the positive difference was only for voucher students who hadn’t come from underperforming schools. There was no difference between students coming from underperforming public schools and those who stayed there. There was also no improvement shown by underperforming students who used the program. In short, there were no effects of the program at all in two out of three years, and improvement was shown in only one year, in only one subject area, and only for already well-performing kids coming from already well-performing schools.

Apart from the fact that the DC voucher program didn’t accomplish its stated purpose of rescuing underperforming kids from underperforming public schools, it also used public money to send 82% of these kids to schools where they were made the target of religious proselytization. Many of those schools run by the DC Catholic Church, which mandates that no one may be hired who would “violate the principles or tenets” of the Catholic Church. That’s hiring discrimination on the taxpayer’s tab.

Federal government efforts to indoctrinate kids religiously haven’t saved their educational scores; data on the eternal salvation of children’s souls are empirically unavailable.

6 comments to Senate Ends Unsuccessful DC Religious School Voucher Experiment

  • juniper

    Vouchers don’t work, and free market faith didn’t work either, huh?

  • … and who were the 42 senators who voted for a mandated public support for failed educational programs in the Catholic schools? I think I’ll be writing on that today.

  • I don’t mind so much that this experiment was tried since they actually monitored it for effectiveness and were willing to change it. Clearly many areas of policy could benefit from this kind of follow up. It’s a shame there aren’t more non-religious private schools trying to make a difference.

    • juniper

      I mind very much “experiments” that bust apart the wall between Church and State.

      • Jim

        But it is preferable that they at least tested the efficacy of the voucher program… which allowed it to be demonstrated that even on its own public-money-for-proselytizing-kids-makes-kids-smart terms it didn’t succeed.

  • qs

    Vouchers are just more spending in my opinion. Not only are they more spending, but it’s another way for the Federal Government to get its foot in the door of private schools to control their curriculum.

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