Handbook of International Development and Education
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Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.
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Chapter 23: Voucher policies and the response of for profit and religious schools: evidence from Chile

Gregory Elacqua, Matías Martínez and Humberto Santos


On every continent, governments have decided that giving parents more choices among schools is an appropriate policy response to educational problems. Voucher programs now exist in countries such as Chile, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and some states in the United States (e.g. Florida and Colorado) and cities around the world (e.g. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and Bogota, Colombia). There are private school tax deductions in countries such as Brazil; charter schools in most states in the United States; public school choices in cities such as New York City and Rio de Janeiro. Countries such as Spain and Argentina provide public subsidies to private, mostly Catholic schools. Proponents have claimed that many benefits will flow from school choice, ranging from improving the efficiency of public schools (Hoxby, 2003) to expanding opportunities to the most disadvantaged students in low achieving schools (Neal, 2002). Skeptics have raised concerns about the effects of school choice on equity and quality. For example, they are concerned that disadvantaged families will not have the time, ability or resources to choose the best schools for their students. Other voucher critics have argued that in order to save costs schools will recruit more advantaged children, thereby increasing segregation and jeopardizing the quality of schools.

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