WILL Research Director Dr. Will Flanders and CATO Institute’s Corey DeAngelis write in the Jackson Clarion Ledger:
This is an exciting time for the children of Mississippi. Legislation that would expand the Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program to include all Mississippi kids in public schools is currently under serious consideration by the Senate. In a state that has struggled for generations to provide a quality education for its young people, the ESA represents a new path forward, giving hope to thousands of kids previously stuck in schools that are not meeting their needs.
While much of the discussion around the ESA will naturally focus on the immediate dollars and cents, an important aspect of such dramatic education reform is often ignored: the potential long-term economic and societal benefits of such a bill for everyone in the state.
The results from our just-released study suggest that a universal ESA could have dramatic positive effects on the state’s economy. Every Mississippi citizen should be excited about this.
Our study, released by the Mississippi State University Institute for Market Studies, uses what we know from the strongest existing evidence on school choice to estimate statewide economic impacts of an ESA. First, the existing research shows that private school choice programs increase the likelihood of high school graduation. Research in Milwaukee, for instance, has found that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are about 4 percent more likely to graduate from high school. In addition, an experimental evaluation found that the voucher program in D.C. increased the likelihood of graduation by 30 percent. And because private schools have strong incentives to shape character skills, the existing research shows that private school choice programs reduce the likelihood of adult criminal activity by over 50 percent.