WASHINGTON (March 11, 2020) – We fight a lot about charter schools and school choice in this country, but most democracies support distinctive schools as a matter of principle and practice.

In the eighth installment in a series on civil society, Ashley Berner, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and associate professor of education, points to the fact that most democracies support educational pluralism. She finds that students benefit when we enable schools with distinctive cultures to flourish and hold them accountable for academic results.

She acknowledges that no school system is perfect, but Indianapolis’s nimble, responsive approach to education has led to new opportunities for community engagement and investment in the next generation.

Berner finds that these pluralism-friendly school-choice policies might have improved student attainment, encouraged parental engagement in civic activity, fostered the growth of nonprofits in the city, inspired city leaders to serve on civic boards and led businesses to engage more fully in schools.

The author concludes that “attending schools with distinctive missions and rigorous academic programs generates positive academic and, critically, civic outcomes for students.”