School Choice Expert: It’s Not Just Low Income Students Struggling in the U.S.

Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy and co-author of two books on school choice, addressed those in attendance at the Economic Club of Indiana lunch today.

Izumi’s primary warning to Americans is that, despite perceptions, it’s not just low income students who are struggling in the public school system. He also offered many eye-opening statistics about higher education, stating that on a national level, 6 in 10 community college students must complete remedial courses.

He advocates private school vouchers, and explains that President Obama attended a private school in Hawaii and credits his experiences there as helping to shape his ambition and talents. And yet, Izumi notes, Obama opposes public money being allocated for private vouchers.

Izumi contends it is important to separate the connection between residential location and schools, noting that many middle class parents end up bankrupting themselves in an effort to live in a nice area, yet are still let down by the public schools. He touts the successes of voucher programs in cities like Milwaukee and Cleveland, and says competition has been a boon to schools in Sweden, of all places.

Initiated in the early 1990s, Sweden’s universal voucher program has been successful, according to testimonials offered by Swedish administrators in a video shown by Izumi. In fact, they were so popular that even when a "socialist" government gained power in the mid-1990s, the program was kept in tact due to its popularity, he asserts. 

You can view the four-minute video on the New York Times web site here.

The next Economic Club of Indiana speaker will be Juan Williams on May 1. Williams is best known for his 21-year career at the Washington Post and for his work as a Fox News contributor. Get your tickets while they last.