NYT Letter to the Editor: The Benefits of School Choice for Poor Children

The following letter to the editor is a response to a recent New York Times story, authored by our senior adviser, Kevin P. Chavous.

Re “Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools” (front page, May 22):Re “Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools” (front page, May 22):represent the entirety — or even a portion — of the thousands of scholarship-granting organizations, schools and administrators either across the state or nationally.

The most rigorous studies of the program in Florida — conducted by David Figlio, who is quoted in the article — show increased academic achievement for students who were struggling most in the public schools. Except for a few isolated examples taken to represent the whole in your article, scholarship tax credit programs across the country have strong accountability measures and a proven track record of improving student outcomes and saving states money.

The overwhelming majority of these programs benefit children from low-income neighborhoods and children with special needs.

While there may certainly be some people who complain about these programs, the vast majority of children are thriving as a result of school choice, having gained access to educational opportunities that otherwise would have been out of their parents’ financial reach. To ignore the overwhelming success of these programs is to jeopardize their future, and with them, the futures of thousands of children from low-income families who are finally getting the shot at a quality education that they deserve.

Washington, May 22, 2012

The writer is a senior adviser to the American Federation for Children and a former member of the D.C. City Council..