In a recent report, The Texas Economy and School Choice, written by Arthur Laffer for the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Laffer evaluated the effect of the proposed Taxpayer Savings Grant Program (TSGP)—essentially a universal voucher program designed to provide school choice to every student in Texas. Laffer concludes that by raising graduation rates, improving education achievement, and thus increasing human capital, the TSGP would substantially raise wages and income for working families, thereby improving economic growth in Texas. In this review, we highlight two profoundly problematic areas of the report. First, Laffer’s assertions about the educational benefits of choice represent a severe overreach with and misapplication of the available research. Second, the author’s economic estimations are over-generalized and heavily biased towards those families who already have the wealth to choose and relocate. The report applies simplistic economic logic to education and fails to consider all but an extremely narrow and inappropriate slice of research on education, making the report unsuitable as a basis for public policy decisions.
Laffer Associates; commissioned by the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation