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Kids Are Safer When They're in Private Schools

August 9, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Representatives from President Trump’s Federal Commission on
School Safety just met in Cheyenne, Wyo., for their third
public listening session aimed at reducing violence in schools. In
these meetings, people have called for arming teachers with guns, hiring more counselors, putting more officers on campuses, and throwing more
money at the issue. But none of these types of proposals address
the root of the school safety problem.

A just-released study by
Harvard University’s Dr. Dany Shakeel and I suggests that private
school vouchers could be tickets to safer schools.

A just-released study by Harvard University’s Dr.
Dany Shakeel and I suggests that private school vouchers could be
tickets to safer schools.

We employ nationally representative data from the Schools and Staffing Survey for the most recently
available (2011-12) school year. Using survey responses from school
principals across the nation, we find that safety problems are less
likely to occur at private schools than government schools. In
fact, we find that private schools have a statistically significant
advantage for each of the 13 discipline problems examined – even
after controlling for factors such as school size, school type,
enrollment, student-teacher ratio, percent of minority teachers,
percent of minority students, and urbanicity.

And the safety benefits of private schooling are large.

For example, as shown in the figure below, private schools are
about 8 percentage points less likely to have physical conflicts
among students and 12 percentage points less likely to have
students using illegal drugs than government schools. Moreover,
private schools are about 18 percentage points less likely to have
gang activities at school and 28 percentage points less likely to
have student possession of weapons than government schools.

But that’s not all. We also find that private schools are less
likely to restrict student liberties than government schools. After
controlling for student and school characteristics, we find that
private schools are about 6 percentage points less likely to
require students to pass through metal detectors each day, 20
percentage points less likely to search for drugs using random dog
sniffs, and 7 percentage points less likely to require students to
use clear backpacks. Obviously, the prison-like environment in
government schools doesn’t create a healthy school culture, which
could lead to less student learning and more discipline
problems.

And this new study isn’t the only evidence suggesting that
private school choice can lead to more safety for students in U.S.
schools. As I pointed out at the second public listening
session (in Lexington, Ky.) all four rigorous evaluations linking private
school choice …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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