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November 02, 2009
In this report, the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice looks at new models for schools. Using the term “greenfield,” from Rick Hess’ vision of areas where there are unobstructed, wide-open opportunities to invent and build, greenfield schooling strips down ideas of the traditional schoolhouse and gives schools the freedom to grow by tailoring education to a wider variety of students.
The report challenges the choice system as it currently stands, saying that existing school choice programs, while delivering slightly better outcomes, are not challenging the public school sector as they need to be. Greg Foster, who co-authored the report, begins by stating, “We know from previous research that vouchers (and equivalent programs like tax credits and ESAs) consistently deliver better academic performance, but the size of the impact is not revolutionary.”
Greenfield schools, the report states, would aid in a move to universal choice, a prerequisite for schools to innovate and grow and to prevent the shuffling of children from public to private schools. Universal choice would open opportunities to children of all ethnicities and income levels, many of whom have been excluded from private schools because of cost. Universal choice aims to lower tuition, and allow private schools to expand and serve new populations, which would afford educational entrepreneurs with dramatically more freedom and support than they currently enjoy even in charter schools. According to Foster, in communities where wider choice has been introduced, academic performance has improved.
While Ohio has several voucher programs, Foster believes the state’s families could benefit from universal choice due to the makeup of the private school sector in the state.
The Greenfield School Revolution and School Choice
By Greg Foster and James L. Woodworth
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice