School choice: Encouraging new and better schools
About This Event





Event Summary

Private school choice programs hold great promise, yet have had a limited effect on the American education landscape. At AEI on Thursday, leading education scholars tried to figure out just why this is the case, and discussed how the US can create vibrant school choice markets that will both encourage good schools to grow and new schools to enter the market to serve more students.

AEI's own Michael McShane framed the debate by suggesting that when we think of creating school choice systems, we should look to the experience of countries across the globe that have successfully transitioned from state control into a market economy. The Foundation for Excellence in Education's Matthew Ladner pointed out that America's schools will face a significant demographic crisis and argued that Education Savings Accounts can lower education costs while increasing quality. Bellwether Education Partners' Andy Smarick explained what private school choice programs could learn in terms of incubation and network building from the charter school sector.

The University of Arkansas's Anna Egalite reviewed the record of state voucher programs to identify what laws and regulations have inhibited the growth of a school choice marketplace, while her colleague Patrick Wolf issued a call for clearer formative research into school choice. Conference participants collectively emphasized that by shifting gears away from asking if school choice is good or bad, the education debate can become more productive, ensuring that school choice markets work better for all students.
--Max Eden

Event Description

Private school choice programs have had a limited effect on the American education landscape. While voucher, tuition tax credit, and education savings-account programs have been successful in filling excess capacity in existing private schools, they have not led to widespread scaling of high-quality school models or to the creation of new, high-quality schools.

Why has this happened? How can the market be structured to better encourage a vibrant supply-side response?

As a part of National School Choice Week, this conference will offer one of the most in-depth and serious looks at how school choice works and in what capacities. We will convene leading education thinkers and practitioners to discuss a series of new papers and to explore how policy, practice, and research can better facilitate and support vibrant school choice marketplaces.

Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #EdMarkets.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to attend this event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Opening Remarks:
Michael Q. McShane, AEI

9:10 AM
Panel I: Framing the debate: Lessons from market creation
Matthew Ladner, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Michael Q. McShane, AEI
Andy Smarick, Bellwether Education Partners

Kara Kerwin, Center for Education Reform

Michael Q. McShane, AEI

10:45 AM

11:00 AM
Panel II: Teachers, leaders, and schools
Christian Dallavis, University of Notre Dame
David Fleming, Furman University
Karen Huchting, Loyola Marymount University

Tiffany Forrester, Black Alliance for Educational Options

Michael Q. McShane, AEI

12:35 PM

1:15 PM
Panel III: Program design, capacity, and evaluation
Anna Egalite, University of Arkansas
Patrick Wolf, University of Arkansas

Matthew Chingos, Brookings Institution
Robert Enlow, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Michael Q. McShane, AEI

2:50 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lauren Empson at, 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact, 202.862.5829.

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AEI Participants


Michael Q.
  • Michael Q. McShane is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI. He is the coeditor, with Frederick Hess, of "Common Core Meets Education Reform" (Teachers College Press, 2013). He is also the coauthor of "President Obama and Education Reform: The Personal and the Political" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012). His analyses have been published widely in technical journals and reports including Education Finance and Policy. He has contributed to more popular publications such as Education Next, The Huffington Post, National Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He began his career as an inner-city high school teacher in Montgomery, Alabama.

    Follow Mike McShane on Twitter.

  • Phone: 202-862-5838
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