Rich Data Poor Data

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

As if the evidence on the benefits of private schools were not voluminous enough, there comes a report with an Ivy League imprimatur that goes a long way towards sealing the deal. “In 2009, the East Valley Tribune and the Arizona Republic alleged that Arizona’s individual income tax-credit scholarship program disproportionately serves privileged students from higher income families over those from lower-income backgrounds,” Vicki E. Murray writes in a report published by Harvard. “Yet neither paper collected the student-level, scholarship recipient family income data needed to verify their allegation.”

“This analysis does by using family income and related data provided by school tuition organizations (STOs) for 19,990 individual income tax-credit scholarship recipients, representing almost 80 percent (79.4 percent) of all scholarship recipients in 2009.” Murray is the Education Studies Associate Director and Senior Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

She completed her analysis of Arizona’s policy for the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Kennedy School at Harvard. “These student-level data show there is no factual basis for claims that the individual income tax-credit scholarship program fails to help poor and lower-income students,” Murray claims. “This analysis finds that scholarship recipients’ median family income was almost $5,000 lower than the U.S. Census Bureau statewide median annual income.”

“ It was also almost $5,000 lower than the median incomes in recipients’ neighborhoods, as estimated using student addresses and zip codes. More than two-thirds (66.8 percent) of scholarship recipients’ family incomes would qualify them for Arizona’s means-tested corporate income tax-credit scholarship program, which is limited to $75,467 for a family of four. Finally, a higher proportion of scholarship recipients come from families whose incomes qualify them as poor (at or below $20,050 for a family of four) than the U.S. Census Bureau statewide average, 12.8 percent compared to 10.2 percent.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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