With the eighth annual National School Choice Week upon us, it is an appropriate time to once again show how a large portion of private schools in Kansas outperform their public school counterparts in preparing low income students for college and career readiness. Results from the 2017 Kansas state assessments disclose, that a much higher percentage of low income students attending parochial schools in urban areas of Kansas are on track for success after high school. In short, low income students are doing better in Kansas’ private schools than in Kansas public schools.
The table below compares outcomes in both math and English language arts (ELA) of private and public schools in Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, Dodge City and Salina. The differences are staggering. Not only do all the private schools outperform their local public peers, but each far exceeds state averages in both math and ELA.
Putting the private school performance in a larger context, they fare quite favorably compared to all public school districts in Kansas.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is data on low income students, not the full student body. Private school assessment results are often dismissed under the false premise that private schools cherry-pick middle and upper-middle class students.
Of course, the concept of school choice is much broader than just the large Catholic dioceses or other parochial schools, but the dearth of school choice in Kansas precludes any other meaningful comparisons.
And it’s high time that changes.
As state lawmakers deal with how to pay the Gannon ransom demanded by the Supreme Court, it provides a golden opportunity to expand school choice in Kansas. A student-focused response to free the Legislature from the Court’s edicts should be designated for ESAs. Allowing families to receive education money directly from the state and choose how to spend it is not only the morally right thing to do. As this data confirms, it will permit those most at-risk of not being prepared for the demands after high school escape the clutches of failing schools and choose an educational path with a greater chance of success.