Pluralism fosters educational options, academic success, and robust accountability
NEW YORK, NY – The Supreme Court recently announced that it would hear Espinoza v. Montana, a case challenging a prohibition on education tax credits for parents who choose religious schools for their children. This type of restriction makes the U.S. an outlier among its international democratic peers, according to a Manhattan Institute report by Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins. The report analyzes the benefits of educational pluralism, a system in which a diverse array of schools receives state funding while submitting to robust accountability measures, and shows how it might be implemented in the U.S.
Educational pluralism fosters the ability of parents from all financial backgrounds to make choices about their children’s education. These decisions can center on factors such as a school’s classroom size, culture, and religious affiliation. At the same time, a well-functioning plural system emphasizes accountability by holding state-funded schools to clear standards of academic quality.
A plural conception of education rests on five key claims, according to Berner:
- The “right school” must be accessible for all families.
- Education is not a neutral enterprise.
- Education is not merely an individual good but also a common good.
- Education belongs within civil society.
- Pluralism advances academic and civic achievement.
Internationally, plural systems often correlate with high academic performance and strong civic behaviors. The list of educationally plural systems is long, including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Belgium, Denmark, Indonesia, Israel, Sweden, and France.