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Peabody Journal of Education, Volume 91, Issue 4, 2016

The Legal and Policy Issues of Vouchers: Multiple Perspectives on Private School Choice

Introduction: The Legal and Policy Issues of Vouchers: Multiple Perspectives on Private School Choice

Suzanne E. Eckes, Indiana University Bloomington
Julie F. Mead, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This issue focuses on the three types of voucher and voucher-like programs that states have created to provide financial support for children who choose to enroll their children in public schools.  These three programs are vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts.  Each of these programs deliver funds to families differently.  25 states currently have at least one of these programs in place, and they continue to grow more popular.  Beginning a century ago, these programs typically provided for gaps in educational provision.  Students whose county did not have a public high school, for example, would receive assistance in order to attend a private high school.  The articles in the issue trace the growth and evolution of these programs and explore the issues that this arm of school choice presents to the nation’s educational system.

CONTENT OF THIS ISSUE

Dana N. Thompson Dorsey and Jonathon A. Plucker in “Deregulation and the American Education Marketplace” trace the political and economic history of deregulation throughout American history, examining how education is situated amongst the markets of other goods and services and the impact of school choice.

Anna J. Egalite and Patrick Wolf review the empirical research on private school choice in the second article, finding that such choice provides some benefits to students who elect to leave the public school system and may allow for limited improvement for those “left behind” in public school.

In the third article, Christopher Lubienski and T. Jameson Brewer evaluate the uses and limitations of research commonly used by school choice advocates, especially the Freedman Foundation.  In their article, “An Analysis of Voucher Advocacy: Taking a Closer Look at the Uses and Limitations of ‘Gold Standard’ Research,” they poke holes in the presentation and selection of research that the Freedman Foundation uses to authoritatively claim that school choice produces first-rate outcomes.

The five following articles examine the impact of school vouchers on civil liberties and rights.  Martha McCarthy examines the religious challenges to school vouchers; Preston C. Green III looks at non-religion-based state constitutional challenges; Susan C. Bon, Janet R Decker and Natasha Strassfeld illuminate how school voucher policy interacts with special education students’ rights; and the articles by Mark A. Gooden, Huriya Jabbar and Maro S. Torres, Jr. and Suzanne E. Eckes, Julie Mead and Jessica Ulm both refocus the conversation about school vouchers around poor students of color.  Gooden et al. look specifically at the legal, historical and political contexts, while Eckes et al. critique the language of voucher policy and its tendency to allow for discrimination, rather than the enfranchisement, of students.

Robert A. Fox and Nina K. Buchanan wrap up the issue by reviewing the content of each article and hypothesize about the future, popularity and effects of school vouchers.  As a topic that has continued to be popular, especially now with the nomination of school-choice advocate DeVos as head of the US Department of Education, school choice remains here to stay, and these authors present valuable insight and questions that can help light the path forward.

REFERENCES

Chubb, J. E., & Moe, T. M. (1990). Politics, markets, & America’s schools. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Education Commission of the States. (2015). State legislation: Choice. Retrieved from ecs.org/state- legislation- reports- on- choice/

Mead, J. F. (2015). The right to an education or the right to shop for schooling: Examining voucher programs in relation to state constitutional guarantees. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 42(3), 703–743.

Prothero, A. (2015, June 9). What’s the difference between vouchers and education savings accounts? [Blog post]. Education Week Blogs. Retrieved from blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2015/06/school-vouchers-education-savings-accounts-difference-between.html


CONTENTS

Introduction: The Legal and Policy Issues of Vouchers: Multiple Perspectives on Private School Choice
Suzanne E. Eckes and Julie F. Mead
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 421-423.

Deregulation and the American Education Marketplace
Dana N. Thompson Dorsey and Jonathon A. Plucker
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 424-440.

A Review of the Empirical Research on Private School Choice
Anna J. Egalite and Patrick J. Wolf
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 441-454.

An Analysis of Voucher Advocacy: Taking a Closer Look at the Uses and Limitations of “Gold Standard” Research
Christopher Lubienski and T. Jameson Brewer
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 455-472.

Religious Challenges to School Voucher and Tax Benefit/Scholarchip Programs
Martha McCarthy
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 473-489.

Non-Religion-Based State Constitutional Challenges to Educational Voucher and Tax Credit Programs
Preston C. Green III
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 490-502.

Special Education Voucher Programs, Reflective Judgment, and Future Legislative Recommendations
Susan C. Bon, Janet R. Decker, and Natasha Strassfeld
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 503-521.

Race and School Vouchers: Legal, Historical and Political Contexts
Mark A. Gooden, Huriya Jabbar, and Mario S. Torres, Jr.
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 522-536.

Dollars to Discriminate: The Un(intended) Consequences of School Vouchers
Suzanne E. Eckes, Julie Mead, and Jessica Ulm
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 537-558.

Conclusion
Robert A. Fox and Nina K. Buchanan
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 4: pages 559-568.


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