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Making School Choice Work

Making School Choice Work

Schools should be given more management autonomy and greater freedom to open, expand and close, according to a newly released report by Harvard University Professor Caroline Hoxby.

The report, School Choice: The Three Essential Elements and Several Policy Options, released tomorrow by the Education Forum and the New Zealand Association of Economists (NZAE), outlines a number of key design requirements if policies aimed at giving parents greater choice over their children’s education are to be successful.

The report is based on Professor Hoxby’s keynote address delivered to the New Zealand Association of Economists annual conference in 2005.

According to the report, successful school choice policies require three essential elements:

• Supply flexibility, which means that schools should have the ability to open where there is demand for them, expand with increased demand and contract with reduced demand;

• Money should follow students, which means that funding policies must be designed so that schools that are in demand have the funds to expand and those that are not in demand lose funds and must contract; and

• Independent management of schools, which means that schools must be free to innovate in a range of areas, including pedagogy, teacher pay, budget allocation, and the way the school is organised.

“Recent debates over school zoning in Auckland, performance pay for teachers, schools’ operations grants and religion in schools highlight the importance of all three of Professor Hoxby’s essential elements to schools, teaching professionals and families”, said Education Forum policy adviser Norman LaRocque.

“Professor Hoxby is one of the world’s foremost experts on school choice and school funding policies, and has undertaken a considerable amount of empirical work on both issues. Her report provides a useful and accessible contribution to the New Zealand debate over school choice. I would highly recommend it to policymakers and all those with an interest in education policy”, concluded NZAE President Dr Grant Scobie.

The report will be available on the Education Forum website: > www.educationforum.org.nz

Ends


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