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Education reform: The 'choice' is clear

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Imagine a federally funded education program that not only delivers what's intended but provides a 162 percent return on investment. Incidentally, this would be the same initiative that President Obama unsuccessfully tried to quash in 2009.

For every dollar spent on the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarship Program ($8,500 per grade-school student, $12,000 per high-schooler), it has produced $2.62 in benefits, according to a new study by two University of Arkansas researchers for the peer-reviewed journal Education Finance and Policy.

Also among their findings, the researchers report a graduation rate of 82 percent among participants in the school choice program compared with an abysmal 60 percent for D.C. public school students.

Multiplying the additional number of grads by the value of a high school diploma yields a total benefit of more than $183 million for a program that costs taxpayers $70 million. Never mind the additional savings realized by reducing truancy and delinquency.

Yet Mr. Obama was ready to junk the D.C. scholarship program — vouchers being a pox to the federal edtocracy — until it was reauthorized as part of the budget compromise of 2011.

And what Obama advocates is another early-childhood baby-sitting intervention like Head Start, which, by the government's own accounting, has been an abysmal failure.

What “works” for students, Mr. President, are the competition and academic rewards achieved through school choice.

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