Sweden’s Voucher Program Part 9

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Excerpts from an interview with Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn on May 22, 2006 in which Milton explains the dynamics involved when parents are empowered to select the best educational option for their children.

I read an excellent article called “School Choice in Sweden: An Interview with Thomas Idergard of Timbro,” (March 8, 2010) by Dan Lips and I wanted to share some of his answers with you below:

DL: In the United States, teachers unions have been the strongest opponents to school choice and voucher programs. What has been the experience of teachers and the teachers unions in Sweden under the universal voucher programs?
TI: Yes, I know that in the U.S. the teacher unions seem to be strong advocates against reforms for free choice. To me this is really strange and even somewhat bizarre, because it is against the core interest of the unions’ members. Widened choice for parents and students, which leads to higher competition through the occurrence of new and different forms of organizing education, also means a widened choice for teachers, because they will no longer be automatically referred to one employer—i.e., the public school monolith!
The Swedish teacher unions never opposed the voucher reform. They did not publicly embrace it, but behind the scenes they had expectations that the teacher profession would gain from more alternatives, competition, and innovation in education.
This is also proven in teacher satisfaction surveys conducted since the introduction of the universal choice program. Last summer, the national and highly respected Swedish Quality Index presented an analysis that showed that the difference in teacher satisfaction with their employer, work environment, and teaching conditions between public and independent schools is “highly significant” in favor of the independent schools. Perhaps these higher satisfaction rates for teachers in independent schools can explain their lower rate of sickness leave?
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