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Christopher Lubienski, (217) 333-4382,
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Review of report on Texas voucher program unsuitable for public policy decisions

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 17, 2015) — A recent report from the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation attempted to evaluate the effect of the proposed Taxpayer Savings Grant Program (TSGP), a universal voucher program, in Texas. The report theorized that by raising graduation rates, improving education achievement, and thus increasing human capital, the TSGP would create economic growth in Texas. An academic review of the report finds serious problems in the report, which render the report unsuitable for public policy decisions.

Arthur Laffer authored the report, The Texas Economy and School Choice. Christopher Lubienski and Ee-Seul Yoon reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Lubienski is professor of education policy and director of the Forum on the Future of Public education at the University of Illinois. Yoon is a Social Sciences and Humanities of Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois.

TSGP is essentially a universal voucher program designed to provide school choice to every student who attended a public school the prior year, or who is entering school in Texas for the first time. Laffer estimates that the program could cut statewide dropouts (130,000) by half as a result of increased school choice.

Lubienski and Yoon, in their review, highlight two key problems with the report:

  1. Laffer's assertions about the educational benefits of choice represent a severe overreach with and misapplication of the available research
  2. The economic estimations are overgeneralized and heavily biased towards those families who already have the wealth to choose and relocate.

The reviewers also note that the TSGP could result in further inequities for Texas schoolchildren, as higher income families would be able to supplement their children's education even further, while devoting fewer resources to low-income families.

In their conclusion, Lubienski and Yoon state: "While this report is clearly written to recommend the TSGP to the State of Texas, the lack of comprehensiveness and transparency, as well as the problems in its methodology, literature review and analysis, make it unsuitable as a basis for public policy decisions."

Read the full review at:

Find The Texas Economy and School Choice on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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