EWA Radio

Three Countries in 14 Minutes: School Choice Lessons From Abroad
Vouchers, private schools, and open enrollment in France, Sweden, and New Zealand (EWA Radio: Episode 162)

photo of children during recess at Hokitika Primary School, New Zealand, 2017

School choice is one of the most contentious issues in K-12  education today. But it’s hardly an American invention. Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report recently traveled to New Zealand, Sweden, and France to look at how school choice plays out, and whether there are lessons for the U.S. system. Why is New Zealand considered a “school choice utopia,” and how is its open enrollment policy driving programming and competition among local campuses? Sweden’s “free schools” are similar to what U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said she envisions in a voucher program — but is that contributing to the Scandinavian country’s steady slide on international assessments? And in France, a longstanding reliance on funneling public dollars to private schools offers insights into the challenge of providing equitable education to less-affluent families. Butrymowicz, an EWA Reporting Fellow, discusses the research on school choice programs abroad, as well as tips and questions for covering the issue stateside.

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