Answers to School-Choice Objections: The “Creaming” Objection

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The “creaming” objection: School choice will allow private schools to cream off the best students, “leaving behind” the poor students in the public schools. Vouchers don’t create ‘choice’ for parents and kids; they create ‘choice’ for private schools at taxpayers’ expense.

Answer: The “creaming” objection paints a rather grim picture of public schools. It is like students running from a burning building, where only the best students are allowed to escape the fire.

The logic that “parents have no choice, only schools have choice” shows no understanding of the free market. School choice is mutual choice with both parents and schools choosing simultaneously. Mutual choice insures that all agreements are mutually voluntary with no coercion on either side.

Maybe some schools are like burning buildings, but most public schools have a large group of families that are content with their school. Their students are doing well, making good grades, having friends, involved in extracurricular activities. These are the “better” students. Why would they be motivated to leave? Moving would involve changing teachers, friends, and a new environment where they may not be successful. The better students have no motivation to move.

Only the poorer students and their parents are motivated to find another environment where they might be successful.

Research confirms this logic. A Harvard research study (An Evaluation of the Horizon Scholarship Program, Peterson, et. al) of the private voucher experiment in Edgewood ISD in San Antonio, TX actually proves that the “creaming” argument is false.

The study found that there were very few differences between the voucher families and the families that didn’t choose a voucher.

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