Public Rules on Private Schools: Measuring the Regulatory Impact of State Statutes and School Choice Programs

Private-school choice programs are one valuable way of delivering high-quality education to low-income kids. Some choice proponents, however, fear that government will saddle participating schools with stifling regulations, making them leery of accepting voucher students at all. So how burdensome are the regulations in place today? The Friedman Foundation dives into the issue in a new report, which measures the regulatory impact of state statutes on twenty-three choice programs across twelve states. Aside from a few outliers, researcher Andrew Catt finds that strong government regulations on private schools were already in place prior to the introduction of these choice programs—and that adopting choice programs did not add much to the regulatory burden. Regulations that were implemented after choice programs were enacted dealt mostly with paperwork or reporting. (Regulations on bigger issues, such as testing and curriculum, were generally already in place.) In other words, in most states at least, school-choice programs haven’t led to a crushing regulatory burden on private schools. And thanks to the innovative methodology developed by Catt for this paper, we have a sophisticated way to track whether that remains the case over time.

Andrew D. Catt, Public Rules on Private Schools: Measuring the Regulatory Impact of State Statutes and School Choice Programs (Washington, D.C.: Friedman Foundation, May 2014).

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