School Choice: The Findings is the most comprehensive and up-to-date survey available summarizing the research on charter schools, vouchers, and public versus private school effectiveness. The focus is on rigorous studies - those using randomized control groups (as in medical research), those that monitor achievement changes over time, and those based on large numbers of students.
The findings reviewed here go beyond academic achievement, covering students' civic engagement, cost comparisons across school types, and public and parental opinion about schools and school choice. The consensus of this research overwhelmingly favors competition and parental choice in education.
"Schools are like other providers of goods and services. When they compete, they become more cost-effective and provide better service. In the current system, public schools are largely protected from competition and have become so ineffective they threaten our nation's prosperity and well-being.
Even so, lawmakers have instead increased the size of school districts, which has further reduced competition, citizen influence, and parental choice. This is backwards thinking. Larger, particularly big-city, school districts have not saved money but have hurt learning, creating mediocre schools and reducing the options parents have to move to better schools.
Parents who are able to escape to private schools no longer invest themselves in public schools. Those who can escape to smaller districts in the suburbs are similarly indifferent."
Herbert J. Walberg
Dr. Herbert Walberg is a senior fellow with The Heartland Institute and chairman of its Board of Directors. He is also a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, and a professor emeritus and University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on educational productivity and human accomplishments.
Dr. Walberg has written and edited more than 60 books and 350 articles on such topics as the causes and effects of learning, teaching and instructional effectiveness, national comparisons of achievement, and educational measurement and evaluation, which have appeared in widely circulated journals, including Daedalus, Educational Leadership, Kappan, and Nature and in such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.
Dr. Walberg is coauthor of several books published by or in association with The Heartland Institute, including We Can Rescue Our Children (1988), Education & Capitalism (2003), and Let’s Put Parents Back in Charge! (2004, 2005).
Dr. Walberg was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Statistical Society (London), the American Psychological Association, the Australian Association for Educational Research, and most recently appointed by President George W. Bush to the twelve-member National Board for Education Sciences. Additionally, he serves as the vice president of the International Academy of Education.
Dr. Walberg has held research posts at the Educational Testing Service and the University of Wisconsin and has taught at Harvard University. He was an adviser to former U.S. secretary of education William Bennett. He has been frequently called to testify before U.S. congressional committees and federal courts on educational matters.
Dr. Walberg earned his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Chicago.