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10/6/98 - 10/19/98

Who Goes to Private School? Who Goes to Public School?
History, Demography, and the Debate Over Educational Choice

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Part One

by Joseph W. Newman

Political Rhetoric and Historical Caricature

The ongoing debate over educational choice invites constant comparisons between private schools and public schools. Unfortunately, zealous debaters often get carried away and exaggerate, particularly when the discussion turns to demographic trends in enrollment. Which students have attended which schools? Why? In all too many cases, the answers are cloaked in political rhetoric and historical caricature.

Advocates of private school choice -- those who favor providing government subsidies to help families afford private elementary and secondary education --seem undaunted by voter rejection of statewide voucher initiatives in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Two well-funded organizations, Americans for School Choice and Empower America, are busy launching grassroots choice campaigns in more than a dozen other states. In the growing number of academic articles and books on choice, scholarly analysis often manages to rise above partisan rhetoric. When the discussion turns to demographic trends, though, most academic studies pass along the same conventional wisdom that characterizes the political conversation. [_Full_Story_]

Vote Against Religious Freedom

by Stephen McClurg

This November, Alabama citizens will get a chance to vote on the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment (ARFA). As religious freedom is already granted by the Bill of Rights and Alabama's Constitution, what is this barely publicized amendment about? In general, the bill states that if an individual claims ANY burden on his religious freedom, it is the government's (and therefore the taxpayers') job to "demonstrate that it has a compelling interest" in the burdening regulation and to use the "least restrictive means" possible in furthering that interest. [_Full_Story_]

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