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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

We Can Learn From Europe-And Not Just What Not To Do

In Cato, David Salisbury reports on how school choice is actually succeeding in other countries. He writes:

In the Netherlands, nearly 76 percent of school-age children attend private schools with state money going to the chosen school. Sweden and Denmark also have liberal school choice policies with school funding following children whose parents choose private schools. In all three countries, student performance is higher than in the United States, where 15-year-olds scored twenty-first on mathematics literacy and twelfth in science, according to international performance audits.

The availability of public money to fund private schools at the parent's choice has led to public schools improving greatly in order to keep children from leaving. Much of this is seen in Sweden, Chile, Hungary and even in Canada.

He says:

Scholars who have studied the various types of educational systems in Europe conclude that students seem to perform better in countries where more schools are privately managed and where a larger share of the enrollment is in such schools.

Our Think Tank discussed the issue of looking outside of the US for guidance on matters. Wasn't SCOTUS criticized for mentioning other country jurisprudence in decisions recently?

There is a big difference between our SCOTUS going outside of the Constitution for its guidance and legislatures doing the same. The latter should be assessing real world solutions. The former must decide if the legislative acts fit our constitutional framework. The SCOTUS is no legislative body.

Allen Gorin found that considering experiences in other countries can be helpful:

I have no problem looking at what's going on in other countries, as long as we do so from the vantage point of that body of wisdom/ principles known as the Judeo-Christian/ capitalist tradition. One of the cornerstones of that tradition is that competition tends to promote excellence while lowering costs for consumers. The fact that some European countries (as well as others around the world), in specific instances, are applying some principles (e.g. competition) better than we are in the field of education should be a reminder of how far we've fallen away from our roots and a tried and true model for successfully educating our kids.

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