I try to avoid shamelessly passing along links without any commentary; today you’ll have to suffer the indignity of such a post.
1. Ontario Catholics are able to choose between sending their children to the (Catholic) separate schools system or the public system, while non-Catholics could only go to public schools.
2. Separate schools systematically outperform their public school counterparts, even though they receive the same funding and draw from almost-identical populations.
This was consistent with a story in which separate schools face incentives that public schools do not and in which they respond to those incentives in predictable ways. Since separate schools do not have a captive market, they have a greater incentive to provide higher-quality education.
There are some interesting echoes of that story here in Quebec. As in Ontario, there are two public systems: English and French. And as in Ontario, only one system has a captive market: unless a child’s parent was educated in English in Canada, she must go to a French school.
If we wanted to apply the Ontario story to Quebec, we’d predict that the English system generated better outcomes than the French system. And we’d be right.
The original post is available here, it contains some background links that are also highly recommended.