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NEPC Review: America's Private Public Schools (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, February 2010)

A recent report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, America's Private Public Schools, has received considerable attention and includes some controversial recommendations. The report's authors suggest the existence of what they term "private public schools," and they argue that the existence of these "exclusive" public schools justifies the support of publicly funded vouchers to private schools. While the report's analysis does support the contention that there are public schools with extreme isolation by class, the authors inappropriately use this finding as the basis to argue that private schools should be publicly funded through vouchers or tax credits -- a conclusion with extremely tenuous logic and one that is unsupported by their analysis. Ultimately, this report has some utility in providing a point of departure for discussions about how we as a society wish to allocate schooling opportunities to students. However, methodological and data problems and the omission of important substantive contextual information about socioeconomic segregation undermine the report's credibility. In addition, the central findings of the authors are disconnected from their ultimate recommendations. And those recommendations do not provide workable solutions or shed any new light on the difficult problem of de facto income segregation. In pursuing such a flawed argument, the authors miss a chance to seriously address this important issue and spur an informed debate on national priorities for public schooling.

Suggested Citation: Yun, J.T. (2010). Review of "America’s Private Public Schools." Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from

Document Reviewed:

America's Private Public Schools

Michael J. Petrilli and Janie Scull
Thomas B. Fordham Institute