Pursuing Innovation in Education: Why It’s Critical

The old system of delivering public education is not improving quickly enough.

Since 1971, America’s spending on education has increased by 300 percent, and that’s adjusted for inflation. Yet student performance has been almost stagnant.

Of the current forms of school choice, competition from private school choice and charter school choice works best to improve public schools.

Though other forms of choice, such as magnet schools and inter- and intra-district choice, can exert some competitive pressure on existing public schools, it’s limited. Thirty empirical studies find competition from charters, school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships result in achievement gains for students who choose to stay in their public schools.

Traditional public education by ZIP Code is already on its way out.

Families making non-residential school choices increased by 21 percent between 2001 and 2013.

But until educational choice expands, improvements will be marginal.

The percentage of families using private school choice programs isn’t as small as it is because parents don’t want those options. It’s because not all states have programs, and most that do limit their programs to serve very few families. The data and public opinion surveys support that if we build universal educational choice programs, families will come and innovation in education will blossom.

Pursuing Innovation

Learn more in our research report, Pursuing Innovation.