NEPC Review: Renewing Our Cities (EdChoice, March 2017) and CPR Scholarships (American Enterprise Institute, March 2017)
Two reports contend that the introduction of school choice can promote economic development in economically distressed urban areas. The first report, published by EdChoice, presents a case study of a charter school that has, according to the report, contributed to the economic development of the city of Santa Ana, California. The second report, published by the American Enterprise Institute, presents a proposal for a hypothetical voucher-like program that, if implemented, would purportedly spur economic development in high-poverty neighborhoods by luring higher income families into those neighborhoods. This review explains that both reports overlook significant bodies of relevant research literature and make unsupported claims that rely on flawed logic and data. The EdChoice report fails to collect and analyze data related to the report’s causal assertion that economic development in Santa Ana resulted from the establishment of the charter school. The American Enterprise Institute report’s claims about the benefits of the proposed program to publicly fund private schooling are unsupported by existing research. We conclude that these reports offer little useful guidance for policy or practice.