Thursday, February 28, 2008

Choosing, Vouching, and Chartering: Coming Soon to a School Near You

The effect of charter schools on traditional public school students in
Texas: Are children who stay behind left behind?

Kevin Booker, Scott Gilpatric, Timothy Gronberg & Dennis Jansen
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Texas has been an important player in the emergence of the charter school industry. We test for a competitive effect of charters by looking for changes in student achievement in traditional public schools following charter market penetration. We use an eight-year panel of data on individual student test scores for public schools students in Texas in order to evaluate the achievement impact of charter schools. We estimate a model that includes student/campus spell fixed effects to control for campus demographic and peer group characteristics, and to control directly for student and student family background characteristics. We find a positive and significant effect of charter school penetration on traditional public school student outcomes.

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Does school choice increase the rate of youth entrepreneurship?

Russell Sobel & Kerry King
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because entrepreneurial activity is a key source of economic growth, promoting youth entrepreneurship has become a priority for policymakers. School choice programs force administrators and teachers to be more entrepreneurial in their jobs by encouraging innovation and by creating competition and a more business-like environment in K-12 education. Does going to school in this climate make students more likely to become
entrepreneurs? In this paper we test whether youth entrepreneurship rates are higher in counties with school choice programs. We find that voucher programs create higher rates of youth entrepreneurship, while charter schools do not, relative to traditional public schools.

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The political economy of school choice: Support for charter schools across states and school districts

Christiana Stoddard & Sean Corcoran
Journal of Urban Economics, July 2007, Pages 27-54

Abstract:
Public charter schools are one of the fastest growing education reforms in the US, currently serving more than a million students. Though the movement for greater school choice is widespread, its implementation has been uneven. State laws differ greatly in the degree of latitude granted charter schools, and-holding constant state support-states and localities vary widely in the availability of and enrollment in these schools. In this paper, we use a panel of demographic, financial, and school performance data to examine the support for charters at the state and local levels. Results suggest that growing population heterogeneity and income inequality-in addition to persistently low student outcomes-are associated with greater support for
charter schools. Teachers unions have been particularly effective in slowing or preventing liberal state charter legislation; however, conditional on law passage and strength, local participation in charter schools rises with the share of unionized teachers.

--------------------------

Tiebout choice and universal school vouchers

Eric Brunner & Jennifer Imazeki
Journal of Urban Economics, January 2008, Pages 253-279

Abstract:
This paper examines who is likely to gain and who is likely to lose under a universal voucher program. Following Epple and Romano [D. Epple, R.E. Romano, Competition between private and public schools, vouchers, and peer group effects, American Economic Review 88 (1998) 33-62; D. Epple, R.E. Romano, Neighborhood schools, choice, and the distribution of educational benefits, in: C.M. Hoxby (Ed.), The Economics of School Choice, The Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2003, pp. 227-286], and Nechyba [T.J. Nechyba, Mobility, targeting, and private school vouchers, American Economic Review 90 (2000) 130-146; T.J. Nechyba, Introducing school choice into multidistrict public school systems, in: C.M. Hoxby (Ed.), The Economics of School Choice, The Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2003, pp. 145-194], we focus on the idea that gains and losses under a universal voucher depend on two effects: changes in peer group composition and changes in housing values. We show that the direction and magnitude of each of these effects hinge critically on market structure, i.e., the amount of school choice that already exists in the public sector. In markets with little or no Tiebout choice, potential changes in peer group composition create an incentive for
high-socioeconomic (SES) households to vote for the voucher and for low-SES households to vote against voucher. In contrast, in markets with significant Tiebout choice, potential changes in housing values create an incentive for high-SES households to vote against the voucher and for low-SES households to vote for the voucher. Using data on vote outcomes from California's 2000 voucher initiative, we find evidence consistent with those predictions.

(Nod to KL)

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