A Public School Voucher Demonstration

The First Year at Alum Rock

by Daniel Weiler

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Reports on the first year of a large-scale educational and social intervention that began in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District, San Jose, California, in 1972. Voucher plans are intended to stimulate competition among schools and teachers for students and funds, promote parental interest, encourage diversity in education, and improve its quality. While Alum Rock is not a pure voucher model, the district achieved a measure of competition and diversity by creating 22 mini-schools in the first year (and 45 in the second) within the participating schools. Parents are pleased at having a choice among mini-schools, each voucher school has gained new autonomy, and teachers have devised new cooperative arrangements and wield new discretionary power over resources. It is too early, however, to judge whether the quality of education and the relations between citizens and their schools will improve. (See also R-1495/1, R-1495/2, R-1495/3.)

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