School Choice in Sweden

Conservative voucher fans sometimes tout school choice, as practiced in Sweden, as a good model for the United States to follow. And they’re right, there’s something to be said for the Swedish system. But as Dana Goldstein points out, what they do in Sweden is much closer to what we call charter schools in the United States than to a system of “vouchers.” Swedish independent schools “remain completely government-financed and are not allowed to charge tuition fees.” So, yes, this is a good model, but it’s basically the model that most progressives are already embracing. Meanwhile, people who want to eliminate public education in the United States are already largely looking past the voucher step and moving straight to education tax credits. Of course these people tend to work at the same institutions that have lately taken to arguing that refundable tax credits aren’t “really” tax cuts at all, so the larger trajectory is to move away from a system of taxpayer financed universal education to something where the well-off get a tax subsidy to educate their kids and poor children work as chimney-sweeps or something.

I, for one, will be sticking with the charter schools.