In a recent commentary for the Eagle, Dave Trabert advocated for so-called school choice programs, specifically state programs that provide money in the form of vouchers to help defray the cost of private schools, as a fix-all for racial and class gaps in educational achievement. However, Trabert misrepresented the school choice effect and ignored much larger factors in student success. He claimed that Wichita area schools discriminate against students of color and students from economically disadvantaged homes, while proposing a program that exacerbates school segregation.
The data on student achievement in school choice programs nationwide is actually quite mixed and often hides how school choice tends to increase school segregation. Trabert left out this fact when he chose Indiana, Arizona, and Florida for his dataset. In Arizona, Latino students make up 44% of the state student body, but 36% of the state’s “school choice” enrollment. White students are 40% of the state student body, but 48% of enrollment. In Florida, white and Asian children tend to go to a school where a third of the student body is Black or Latino, even though Black and Latino kids make up more than half of the state student body.
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