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.

Medical Tourism on the Rise for Americans

Free markets have a funny way of benefiting the consumer. The Heartland Institute is taking a look at how medical tourism is helping American patients receive quality medical care outside of the U.S. for less — and how it’s forcing lawmakers to rethink paradigms:

Approximately 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007, and as many as six million will have received health care outside the United States by 2010, the study reports…

“U.S. hospitals have very high cost structures,” said John R. Graham (director of health care policy at the Pacific Research Institute), “largely caused by government regulation that inhibits competition and specialization, requiring general hospitals to be all things to all people. In the long run, as their ‘profitable’ operations disappear overseas, American hospitals will face a crisis that will require policymakers to rethink how they organize the health care safety net.”

“Quality and patient protections vary widely in other countries, just like they do within the United States,” said Michael Cannon, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. ”What we don’t get in the United States is price competition, but that can’t last forever, particularly with foreign providers offering comparable quality at a lower cost.

“Medical tourism can only grow,” Cannon added. ”And that’s a good thing.”