‘The Economist’ and school vouchers

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

In an earlier post I mused over whether ACT would bring back a voucher scheme as a key policy.

Here’s a reason why not. This week’s issue of The Economist (which recently unlocked the walled garden that was its website and made its content freely available) reports on the failure of school voucher systems in the United States:

Mr [Michael] Bloomberg [New York City mayor] has not been as brave with schools as Mr Giuliani was with crime. Oddly given his belief in competition, the former media mogul shunned the most radical option—vouchers that allow parents to shop around beyond the public-schools system for their children’s education. On the other hand, even supporters of school choice, like this newspaper, have to admit it is proving hard to sell. (This week voters in Utah rejected a proposed voucher scheme, thought to be the 11th time in succession that voters have said no to something similar.)

This “pragmatism over principles” theme seems familiar…

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