NEPC Review: The Case for Educational Pluralism in the U.S. (Manhattan Institute, July 2019)
A report from the Manhattan Institute argues that public funding for education in the United States should be divided between traditional district public schools, charter schools, and private schools, with funding decisions based on student enrollment. The Case for Educational Pluralism in the U.S. asserts that expanding public funding to private (secular and religious) schools will result in greater choice for all students, improve the quality of education, reduce the achievement gap, and strengthen democratic institutions by increasing civic engagement. The report’s central argument stems from a combination of (a) conceptual perspectives rather than empirical research; (b) empirical studies drawn primarily from religious and school choice advocacy groups; and (c) well-designed and peer-reviewed studies that lead to conclusions only loosely tied or entirely unrelated to public funding of private schools. The report may prove useful for those who seek a rhetorical appeal for public funding of private school education. But because of lack of evidence, flawed logic, and failure to consider differences in national policy contexts, this report offers little useful to policymakers intent on improving access to quality schools.