In a Policy Analysis by Andrew J. Coulson of the Cato Institute, Markets vs. Monopolies in Education: A Global Review of the Evidence Coulson asks the question:
Would large-scale, free-market reforms improve educational outcomes for American children?
However, to answer that question he looks to “education systems from all over the globe” since in the US “[e]xisting programs are too small, too restriction laden, or both.” He assessed “25 years of international research comparing market and government provision of education.” His conclusion:
In more than one hundred statistical comparisons covering eight different educational outcomes, the private sector outperforms the public sector in the overwhelming majority of cases. Moreover, that margin of superiority is greatest when the freest and most market-like private schools are compared to the least open and least competitive government systems (i.e., those resembling a typical U.S. public school system).
Below are a few snippets of what really jumped out at us. However, we recommend reading the full report which is only 16 pages and easy to read. Click Here. We will also put a permanent link in the Fact-finding section.
The contrast between Tables 2 and 3 tells a new and compelling story. While private schools clearly outperform state-run schools all over the world across a host of outcome measures, this difference pales in comparison to that between relatively free education markets and state monopolies. While findings of a private-schooling advantage outnumber those of a public-schooling advantage by a ratio of nearly 8 to 1, findings of a free-market advantage outnumber those of a school–monopoly advantage by a ratio of more than 17 to 1. And while there are 17 insignificant public-versus- private findings, there is only a single insignificant market-versus-monopoly finding.
Contrary to the expectations of many conservative and liberal education commentators in the United States, there is little evidence that government regulation improves the operation of the marketplace. It is actually the freest, most market-like education systems that demonstrate the greatest margin of superiority over state schooling.
If we want to ascertain the merits of real market reform in education, we must compare genuinely market-like private school systems (which are minimally regulated and are funded, at least in part, directly by parents) with state school monopolies protected from significant market competition (such as the typical U.S. public school system).
These results discredit the notion, prevalent in both conservative and liberal political circles, that the content of schooling must be overseen by the state in order for schools to achieve optimum performance. It is in fact the least regulated market school systems that show the greatest margin of superiority over state schooling.