The Economist har en særdeles interessant artikel, der påviser, at Milton Friedmans ide om “school vouchers”, hvor det offentlige betaler mens forældre frit kan vælge mellem private (og offentlige) skoler, giver resultater for så vidt angår børns færdigheder:
Harry Patrinos, an education economist at the World Bank, cites a Colombian programme to broaden access to secondary schooling, known as PACES, a 1990s initiative that provided over 125,000 poor children with vouchers worth around half the cost of private secondary school. Crucially, there were more applicants than vouchers. The programme, which selected children by lottery, provided researchers with an almost perfect experiment, akin to the pill-placebo studies used to judge the efficacy of new medicines. The subsequent results show that the children who received vouchers were 15-20% more likely to finish secondary education, five percentage points less likely to repeat a grade, scored a bit better on scholastic tests and were much more likely to take college entrance exams.
Voucher programmes in several American states have been run along similar lines. Greg Forster, a statistician at the Friedman Foundation, a charity advocating universal vouchers, says there have been eight similar studies in America: seven showed statistically significant positive results for the lucky voucher winners; the eighth also showed positive results but was not designed well enough to count.
The voucher pupils did better even though the state spent less than it would have done had the children been educated in normal state schools. American voucher schemes typically offer private schools around half of what the state would spend if the pupils stayed in public schools. The Colombian programme did not even set out to offer better schooling than was available in the state sector; the aim was simply to raise enrolment rates as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Opponents still argue that those who exercise choice will be the most able and committed, and by clustering themselves together in better schools they will abandon the weak and voiceless to languish in rotten ones. Some cite the example of Chile, where a universal voucher scheme that allows schools to charge top-up fees seems to have improved the education of the best-off most.
The strongest evidence against this criticism comes from Sweden, where parents are freer than those in almost any other country to spend as they wish the money the government allocates to educating their children. Sweeping education reforms in 1992 not only relaxed enrolment rules in the state sector, allowing students to attend schools outside their own municipality, but also let them take their state funding to private schools, including religious ones and those operating for profit. The only real restrictions imposed on private schools were that they must run their admissions on a first-come-first-served basis and promise not to charge top-up fees (most American voucher schemes impose similar conditions).
The result has been burgeoning variety and a breakneck expansion of the private sector. At the time of the reforms only around 1% of Swedish students were educated privately; now 10% are, and growth in private schooling continues unabated.
Som på ældreplejeområdet giver det frie valg og den deraf medfølgende konkurrence både mellem forskellige private aktører og mellem private aktører og det offentlige – altså positive resultater for både velstillede og de der har færrest ressourcer. Nu venter vi blot på, at Anders Bondo Christensen læser artiklen og kræver voucherordningen indført i Danmark, så danske lærere også kan nyde godt af den højnede standard ordningen stiller i udsigt. Det kan ikke vare længe…