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More School Choice Means More School Safety

April 4, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Martin Lueken

Corey A. DeAngelis and Martin Lueken

Parents often rank school safety at the top of the list of what they care about
most when it comes to their children’s schooling. Recent events
have increased concerns among parents and school leaders and may
even suggest that some schools are struggling to keep children
. Many people have called for heightened security measures
such as arming teachers, mandating clear backpacks, and stationing
more officers in schools.

Perhaps there’s another solution, one that doesn’t potentially
create a stressful environment for students.

What if some types of schools are safer than others? Is it
possible that school choice could improve school safety? Our
just-released study suggests it might.

School safety problems

Using survey data from Indiana in 2018, we examined the
relationship between school type and the presence of a set of 13
school safety-related practices, including controlled access to the
campus and buildings, metal detectors, uniforms, student
identification badges, and the presence of security personnel.

We find that private and public charter school leaders tend to
be more likely to report “never” having safety problems
at their schools than traditional public school leaders.
Specifically, our preferred model detects statistically significant
private school advantages, relative to traditional public schools,
for 8 out of the 13 safety outcomes.

For example, as shown in Figure 1 below, private school leaders
in Indiana are about 18 percentage points more likely to report
never having student physical conflicts than traditional public
school leaders. The results are not statistically significant for
the remaining five outcomes.

Figure 1: Private School Safety Problems Relative to
Traditional Public Schools

Figure 2: Public Charter School Safety Problems Relative
to Traditional Public Schools

Notes: All estimates reported in figure are statistically
significant at the 90% level of confidence. Full results are
reported in table 8 of the paper. These estimates are from
models that control for school characteristics (level, total
enrollment, number of minority students, number of students
eligible for the national free and reduced-price lunch program,
number of English language learners, number of minority teachers,
number of full-time teachers, urbanicity, suspensions, expulsions,
and school safety practices) and respondent characteristics (race,
gender, position, and income).

The results for public charter schools indicate that eight of
the 13 outcomes are not statistically significant, meaning there
were no significant differences detected between the propensity for
public charter and traditional public school leaders to report
never having these school problems. Three statistically significant
results suggest that public charter schools may be safer than
traditional public schools along these three measures of school
problems (likelihood of physical abuse of teachers, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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