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More Private School Choice Means More Student Safety

June 27, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

The Federal Commission on School Safety, created shortly after
the tragic
Parkland, Fla., school shooting
,
met on Tuesday in Lexington, Ky.
, to discuss how to make
schools safer. Many people,
including President Trump
, have called for heightened security
measures such as arming teachers, mandating clear
backpacks
, and stationing more officers in public schools. But
none of these approaches address the root of the school safety
problem.

Just about all proposed approaches are attempts to centrally
plan school safety from the top-down. Of course, the addition of
more police officers or security guards to schools is meant to
diminish the likelihood that dangerous people are successful in
harming students. However, this type of environment does not
improve the mental stability of children within schools. Indeed,
some critics argue that a prison-like setting could do more harm than
good
by stressing students out. And having more armed adults on
site does little to nothing to reduce the likelihood that students
engage in activities such as bullying or fighting.

But if more constraints do not solve school safety problems,
does that mean fewer security measures will result in safer
schools?

Children’s safety should
be our No. 1 priority. And the most rigorous evidence suggests that
school vouchers are indeed tickets to safer schools.

Not at all. As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden pointed out, the lax discipline initiatives in
New York City public schools probably unintentionally harmed school
safety because of more disruptive behavior. Since the two
discipline reforms, aimed to reduce students suspensions, were
issued in New York City in 2012, teachers reported more disorder, violence, drugs, and gang activity
in their public schools
.

Central planners unfortunately have a knowledge problem. No one knows the socially optimal
level of school suspensions or expulsions and no one knows of any
perfect top-down measures of school safety. And even if bureaucrats
could somehow calculate an optimal level of discipline or security
for one school, it would not necessarily apply to any other school.
Because all students are unique, the only way to solve this
knowledge problem is to allow all families to choose the discipline
and security policies that work best for their own children.

I’ve recently made the argument that, in theory, school vouchers are tickets to safer schools.
But what does the scientific evidence indicate?

The data show that the school choice approach works. As shown in
the table below, I only know of four rigorous studies linking
private school choice to student safety. All four of these studies
find statistically significant positive effects …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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