Friedman Foundation school integration report largely driven by ideology, not evidence
East Lansing, Mich.— A report from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice claimed that universal school choice offers a solution to increasing school segregation. The report argued that competition unleashed by unrestricted school choice would promote integration. However, an academic review of the report finds that the arguments are not based on evidence.
Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Erica Frankenberg, an associate professor at Penn State University, reviewed The Integration Anomaly: Comparing the Effects of K-12 Education Delivery Models on Segregation in Schools for the Think Twice think tank review project at the National Education Policy Center, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The report, authored by Benjamin Scafidi for the Friedman Foundation, suggested that housing integration has not been an effective way to pursue school integration, and it concludes with recommendations for how to structure school choice to achieve integration.
Siegel-Hawley and Frankenberg, in their review, note the surface appeal of the report’s recommendations for the expansion of school choice, including ending virtually all regulation of school choice and providing universal scholarships, as a means for addressing persistent school segregation.
However, the reviewers find that the analysis of the empirical relationship between school and residential segregation relies on flawed methodological decisions with regard to how to define segregation and divergent trends over time. Those problematic definitions, in turn, yield biased results and prompt the reader to incorrectly assume that housing integration policies will have little bearing on school segregation.
Siegel-Hawley and Frankenberg also point out that the report’s use of research literature on school choice is haphazard and incomplete, drawing conclusions either beyond what the research supports or contrary to what research has found.
Most prominently, the reviewers find that the report ignores a growing body of literature finding that the very type of unregulated school choice it proposes has, in many instances, exacerbated racial segregation.
In their conclusion, the authors praise how the report describes the benefits of integrated schools for students, but they ultimately find the report “provides little utility for guiding policies or communities seeking to combat growing school segregation.”
Read the full review at: www.greatlakescenter.org.
Find the report on the web, go to www.edchoice.org/research/the-integration-anomaly/.