School choice—allowing parents to choose, not government to dictate, which schools their children attend—is popular with Michigan families. But opponents claim greater choice will lead to segregation of students by race and income. Is this true?
Only if you make two wrong assumptions. The first is that public schools themselves represent broad and diverse cross-sections of their communities. In reality, Michigan public schools are themselves among the most segregated schools in the country.
A Harvard study revealed that blacks on average make up only 17.5 percent of students in Michigan public schools with white majorities. And whites in black majority schools represent less than one percent of those schools' student bodies.
The other wrong assumption is that private schools are segregated, when in actuality, they are more racially diverse than government-run schools. The National Association of Independent Schools reports that nearly 18 percent of all their students are students of color, and a number of studies have documented greater diversity in private schools, especially in the inner city.
Greater school choice through tuition vouchers or tax credits will help more families break out of their government-assigned, segregated public schools to choose a more diverse education for their children.
For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.