School choice: Encouraging new and better schools



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The private school teacher pipeline
Karen Huchting and Matthew Cunningham
Loyola Marymount University

With the national discussion about education promoting school choice for families, the question arises as to whether private schools can provide effective instruction for students. Similar to the public sector, answers to this question often begin with an evaluation of the qualifications and efficacy of private school teachers and administrators, warranting an analysis of private educator preparation. Contextualized by recent reports and research regarding teacher and administrator preparation across U.S. colleges and universities, this paper’s focus lies within private education’s largest entity, the Catholic school system. Specifically, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (ALA) has developed a strong relationship with Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and its Catholic school teacher and administrator preparation programs. To follow is a description and analysis of four educator preparation programs within the Center for Catholic Education (CCE) at LMU — Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education (PLACE corps), Catholic Archdiocesan School Teachers (CAST), the Catholic Inclusion Program, and the Catholic School Leadership Academy — which have positively impacted ALA and its efforts to recruit and retain skillful teachers and administrators who are dedicated to Catholic education. The characteristics that make these programs and their alumni successful are discussed as potential approaches to educator preparation in the private sector.

Choice program design and school supply
Anna Egalite
University of Arkansas

As publicly-funded, market-based school reforms like vouchers and tax credit scholarship programs continue to grow, school choice supporters have begun to direct attention towards school supply factors. A dearth of high-quality private school seats has the potential to derail even popular, cost-effective, and successful programs. Until now, choice programs have been able to take advantage of excess capacity in under-enrolled religious schools but as demand grows, delivery models evolve, and educational services continue to unbundle, policymakers will need to respond with dynamic funding systems and flexible policies that will support new, high-quality schools and permit students to assemble course loads from a variety of providers. Despite a number of barriers to the expansion of school supply, many solutions have presented themselves and transformative policies and legislation that have the potential to ameliorate supply side congestion have popped up across the country. This paper explores how voucher size and design can be tweaked to encourage new schools to enter, how funding systems can be leveraged to maximize innovation, and provides fresh examples of organizations that are succeeding in encouraging new schools to establish and excellent schools to expand.
Operator incentives: Lessons from the Notre Dame ACE Academies
Christian Dallavis
The University of Notre Dame

This paper will share the initial lessons learned by Notre Dame's foray into the supply side of the parental choice scholarship effort, highlighting some of the early successes while articulating the greatest challenges our partner schools continue to face. After three years of operating Catholic schools serving low-income communities in Arizona and one year in Florida, we have learned much about increasing parental choice scholarship access and strengthening academic quality. We have become convinced of the critical importance of implementing a strong school culture, and we have come to believe that the greatest lever for school change is the principal. At the same time, we have encountered numerous obstacles. We have new appreciation for the challenges principals and parents face when dealing with the maddening complexity of some state parental choice scholarship programs. We have encountered the challenges of creating new governance mechanisms in a 2,000 year-old church governed by a code of canon law. And we have been challenged at every turn by adults who had grown comfortable with the status quo, despite its adverse effects on children. In particular, this paper will describe the challenges state tax policies and the scholarship-granting organization landscape can pose for school operators. It will also look into issues of scale and the challenges the Notre Dame ACE Academies face in scaling up their operations.

Catalysts needed to create a rapidly expanding private school choice sector
Andrew Neumann
Educational Enterprises, Inc.

We all wish there were fewer failing schools of any type (district, charter, private school choice or other) in our cities and our nation. However, perhaps the bigger issue that our nation faces is not that we have too many failing schools, but rather that we don’t have enough great ones. From the perspective of a school operator who has experience starting and managing charter and private school choice schools in multiple states, this paper is an attempt to explain what it would take to create the market conditions necessary to catalyze the explosion of high quality educational options for families across our nation. The nine major considerations provided are a call for action with implications for all key stakeholders committed to improving education in our nation including advocates, elected officials, philanthropists and foundations, educators, community leaders and parents.

The American K-12 system has increased both spending and employees per pupil at a rate many times faster than relatively modest improvements in academic achievement. International comparisons show American states on the high end of spending but the lower end on performance. Worse still, the Census Bureau’s projections show all states will grow substantially older in coming years, with many simultaneously put in the position of accommodating a large school-age population. Pressures on state budgets will grow in an unprecedented manner, setting a high-bar for policymakers: American K-12 needs both a substantial improvement in academic and cost effectiveness. Although commonplace in most human activities, policymakers will need to craft powerful policy interventions to see such improvement in education. The nation’s first Education Savings Account (ESA) program deposits funds into a parental managed account for eligible parents choosing to participate. Parents have broad discretion to choose between a wide variety of education service providers- including public schools, private schools, community colleges, universities, online learning programs and certified private tutors. The program allows parents to save funds for future higher education expenses, creating an incentive to seek highest value. ESA programs therefore represent an important refinement to the school voucher concept.

The nation’s first private school voucher program and first charter school law came into being at virtually the same time. But chartering took off quickly as state after state passed laws of their own, and before long there were thousands scattered across the nation. But few public programs for private schools were created in the years after the Milwaukee experience. However, of late tax credit and scholarship programs have become resurgent. So what can advocates of such programs learn from charter schooling’s 20 years of experience and evolution — both its successes and struggles? Three strategies hold the most promise for enabling private school programs to thrive: the development of school networks, new-school incubators, and accountability via authorizers.
Lessons from the private sector: Making private schooling less expensive
Michael Q. McShane and Max Eden
American Enterprise Institute

Creating a high quality set of scalable private school models to take advantage of school choice programs will require a rethinking of both how private schools are created and how they deliver instruction. Most school voucher and tuition tax credit programs have caps on the amount of tuition support that they will provide that is less than the cost of education in many private schools. In order to fully leverage this new source of money, schools will need to become less expensive. With regards to creation, policymakers and school can learn a great deal from venture capitalists who provide seed money for promising businesses as well as innovative city governments that offer social impact bonds to finance social programs. With regards to delivering instruction, private schools can learn from innovative charter and public school models that are leveraging technology or rethinking how teachers are used to make schools more effective and more efficient. This paper will describe and relate venture capital seeding, social impact bonds, and new school models to the private school marketplace and tease out key lessons private school leaders and policymakers can learn from them.
The school choice program research nexus
Patrick J. Wolf
University of Arkansas

Research about parental school choice has been around nearly as long as the policies themselves. The first school voucher program, established in Milwaukee, WI in 1990, came into being along with a government-mandated evaluation of its effectiveness. Although chartering schools was not evaluated systematically until a decade after such schools of choice were established, in 1991, the past 12 years has seen an explosion in such studies sufficient to inform a meta-analysis. Magnet schools and other forms of intra-district and even inter-district school choice are being studied, as is homeschooling and virtual schooling. The overwhelming majority of studies of parental school choice are summative evaluations that seek to determine if such programs, in general, improve outcomes for students and families. While some existing studies explore the conditions under which school choice appears to be most effective — the positive mediators of choice — as well as for whom it appears to be most effective — the positive moderators of choice — few empirical studies of parental school choice are formative in providing intelligence on how choice systems and choice schools might be better designed and operate so as to maximize positive program effects. This paper will examine these questions from the perspective of someone who has produced high profile summative evaluations of private school choice programs for the past 14 years and who currently is exploring ways that research can better provide guidance to program designers and operators so that choice might better reach its potential. The branch of organizational theory concerned with “learning organizations” and positive feedback loops will be used to frame the discussion.

While almost 80 percent of private school students attend religious schools, religious school enrollment dropped by over 800,000 students over the past decade. At a time when many religious schools are struggling, private school choice programs provide a lifeline. Choice programs have relied on excess capacity in private schools, but what happens as programs become more established and more students become eligible? This paper examines the supply side dynamics of private choice programs, focusing on how nonsectarian and religious schools participate in the education marketplace. After struggling for decades to keep their school doors open, many Catholic schools and other religious schools may now have incentives and opportunities to expand. Further, these programs allow secular education entrepreneurs to open schools. This paper investigates how the supply of religious and secular schools has changed over time in an established program in Milwaukee, WI. It then explores what may happen in contexts with more universal participation. Religious and nonsectarian schools face a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Policy design characteristics — including the size of the subsidy and the form of governmental regulation and oversight — have significant effects on the supply side response by religious and nonreligious schools.
Lessons of market creation from around the world
Michael Q. McShane
American Enterprise Institute

For the past 50-plus years, nations all over the world have moved the provision of a variety of services from the public to the private sector, with varying degrees of success. This chapter will survey the experiences of several countries to glean lessons that can be applied to the education system. In short, the primary lesson of market creation is that markets do not simply emerge from the ether; movement from the public to the private sector must be accompanied by reforms to property rights, legal responsibilities, and the infrastructure necessary to drive a supply side response of providers. This will provide a framework for a discussion of the reforms necessary to drive a more vibrant educational marketplace, from changes to the pipelines into teaching and private school leadership to financial reforms to move capital to private schools to foster growth to new regulatory tools to ensure quality and financial transparency.

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