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73 Ark. L. Rev. 455 (2020)


In the United States, debates about private and faith-based education tend to focus on questions about government funding: which kinds of schools should the government fund (and at what levels)? Should, for example, students be able to use public funds to attend privately operated schools? Faith-based schools? If so, what policy mechanisms should be used to fund private schools—vouchers, tax credits, direct transfer payments? How much funding should these schools receive? The same amount as public schools or less? As a historical matter, the focus on funding in the United States makes sense because only public (that is, government-operated) elementary and secondary schools historically received government funding. In this sense, the US is global outlier. In many if not most nations, in both the developed and developing world, government funding is available to private institutions, but often under very stringent regulatory conditions. In these countries, education debates tend to focus on government control v. private-school autonomy. This paper uses comparative case studies to reframe the debate about the funding and regulation of private schools as a single debate about educational pluralism.



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