Great White Choice

Canadian vouchers


Many Americans cry out for Canadian-style state-financed and state-managed health care. But they might instead consider importing the Canadian approach to school choice. The experience of our neighbors to the north may point the way toward a future of better performance by disadvantaged students.

A new study from Canada's Fraser Institute and the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation examines the structure and results of voucher-style government support for nonpublic schools in six Canadian provinces. Voucher opponents in the U.S. raise fears that allowing families to choose a school instead of being forced into their district public school would result in a brain drain of the clever and wealthy into private institutions, further damaging the educational prospects of the poor. But this study finds that, in Canadian provinces with funding for nonstate schools, low-income children attend private institutions in greater numbers and at higher percentages than in provinces without such funding.

The voucher-providing provinces also show a weaker correlation between socioeconomic status and educational achievement, and boast achievement scores in both public and nonpublic schools that are "not only higher generally…but also higher particularly among students from less advantaged backgrounds."