US students start academic year with 'massive gains' in school choice (2022)

Millions ofschoolchildrenacross the United States are starting the academic year off with more access to school choice than ever before following hard-fought wins incourtrooms,state legislaturesand at theballot box.

Arizona,which has a long history of embracing school choice, is leading the way. The state has pioneered policies that expand school choice, including education savings accounts, state-backed private school scholarships, a growing charter school sector, and a thriving open enrollment policy.

Last month, RepublicanGov. Doug Duceysigned a massive expansion of the state's private voucher system despite threats from public school advocates to block the bill and press voters to nix it during November's general election.

The expansion lets every parent in Arizona take the money the state sends to the K-12 public school system and use it for their children's school tuition or other educational costs. All 1.1 million Arizonan students who attend traditional public schools qualify to leave their public school and get money to go to a private one. An estimated 60,000 private school students and about 38,000 homeschooled children are immediately eligible to take up to $7,000 per year.

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For Susan Cleary, that's good news.

The Scottsdale, Arizona, boutique owner told theWashington Examinerthat school choice was one of the reasons she insisted her daughter and two elementary school-aged grandsons move from California to the desert.

"They aren't learning a thing back there," she told theWashington Examinerin July. "The government shouldn't be allowed to shove education down our throats. It should be up to parents to decide what their children are taught."

Cleary's comments resonate with scores of parents across the country looking for something new.

"School choice" is an umbrella term used to describe the movement to expand alternatives to traditional public schools, which include charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, open enrollment schools, online learning, homeschooling, or other learning environments a familychooses.

While school choice has been around for nearly 150 years —Vermont'stown-tuition program started serving families in 1869 — the modern movement began in the early 1990s. In 1991,Wisconsinbecame the first state to create a modern school voucher program. That same year,Minnesotabecame the first state to create a law allowing charter schools. The City Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, the nation's first publicly funded, privately run charter school, opened its doors in 1992.

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Supporters of traditional public schools contend that school choice– in its various permutations– siphons off money from public education and diverts precious dollars away from schools that need them most. They also argue that school choice benefits wealthier families by allocating them public money that they don't really need to begin with and maintain that school vouchers, in particular, exacerbate existing inequities.

School choice advocates argue that competition is good and parents should be able to take their children – and the public funds they're entitled to–to an education setting they believe is best.

Since then, there has been a groundswell of support for school choice, buoyed by former President Donald Trump, as well as then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who became a hero to advocates of school choice and a villain to traditional public school supporters.

Last year, 19 states enacted 32 new or expanded school choice policies. Now, a total of 21 states and Washington, D.C., offer school choice programs that give parents financial assistance and private school options.

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Momentum for the movement has grown. In 2022, several states adopted policies that allowed parents to pull their children out of traditional public schools and weighother options, such as charter schools, which are tuition-free public schools that are independently run; education savings accounts, which are state-supervisedfunds that parents can use to pay for a selection of education options; learning pod, a parent-organized small group of children who come together to learn and socialize; and, open enrollment, which allows students to go to another school district if it has space.

There are currently about 7,700 charter schools in the U.S. that serve about 3.6 million students, according toschoolchoiceweek.com. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for the creation of charter schools, and the number of students attending these schools has more than doubled in a decade. Magnet schools, which allow students to focus on a specific learning track, have also grown. There are currently more than 4,000 operating in the country.

Private schools are also available in every state but charge tuition. Thirty states now offerprograms that make scholarship money or tuition assistance available to families. Of the 30 states, 21 offer an official scholarship program. Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina offer both scholarship and state deduction programs, schoolchoiceweek.com reported.

Virtual learning remains a popular choice for families. About 375,000 K-12 students attended online school full-time in 2019-2020. The number soared to 656,000 for the 2020-2021 school year. The numbers for the 2022-2023 school year have not yet been released.

"These are massive gains for American families, but supporters of school choice shouldn't let their understandable euphoria subside into complacency," said Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation. "Defenders of the status quo are vigorously mounting a counteroffensive to delay, block, and undo the choicereforms. We have entered the 'Empire Strikes Back' phase of the fight for school choice."

In July,a West Virginia judge struck down a law that would have funneled state money into a program that incentivized families to pull their children out of public schools. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit ruled that the Hope Scholarship voucher program violated the state's constitutional mandate to provide "a thorough and efficient system of free schools." The voucher program was supposed to go into effect this school year, and more than 3,000 students had been approved to receive about $4,300 each during the program's inaugural cycle.

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Dale Lee, president of West Virginia'slargest teachers union, told theAssociated Pressthat parents have the right to choose whether they want their children to homeschool or send them to private school but that the state shouldn't be using taxpayer dollars to fund it.

"It is one thing to allow parents the choice of where to educate their children, but it is another matter entirely when we entice them away from our public schools with public money as the incentive."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed for an appeal. The case is likely to go before the state's new Intermediate Court of Appeals but could wind up in the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Despite the growth of school choice in several states, some public school teachers theWashington Examinerspoke to in Virginia, Florida, and Georgia described itas nothing but a veiled attempt to take money away from public schools and put it into private ones that can select and reject candidates based on the color of their skin, gender, religious beliefs, and affiliations.

Opponents also argue that Republican-led legislatures pushed through bills to expand charter schools and voucher programs during theCOVID-19 pandemicwithout putting in safeguards to make sure that students, their families, and taxpayers are protected from "discrimination, corruption, and fraud" that have at times stained alternative schooling options.

They also point to some troubling figures. For example, seven states publicly fund homeschools with few, if any, checks on the quality of instruction or monitoring of student progress, according to a report by the Network for Public Education, an advocacy group that supports traditionally funded public schools. Nineteen states do not require teachers in voucher schools to be certified, while 26 states do not require that voucher students take the same state tests as their public and charter school peers.

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Editor's note: This story is part of a series by the Washington Examiner called "Empowering Families in Education News."

FAQs

What is school choice in the US? ›

School choice in the U.S. Charter schools in the U.S. Higher education in the U.S. School choice refers to the educational alternatives available to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local district public school to which they have been assigned.

How long has school choice been around? ›

School choice has been around for nearly 150 years. Vermont's town-tuitioning program has served families since 1869. In 1991, Wisconsin became the first state to create a modern school voucher program. In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to create a law allowing charter schools.

How many high school students are there in the US 2021? ›

An estimated 16,892,000 students will be enrolled in high school in 2021. 15,492,000 of these students will be enrolled in public high schools.

How many students are there in the US 2021? ›

Preliminary data for fall 2021 show that some 49.5 million students were enrolled in public schools in prekindergarten through grade 12, which was higher than enrollment in fall 2020 (49.4 million) by a difference of about 78,100 students (source, source).

Which state has the most school choice? ›

The States Ranked by Spending on School Choice Programs, 2021 Edition
  • Florida (1) ...
  • Wisconsin (3) ...
  • Arizona (2) ...
  • Vermont (4) ...
  • Maine (5) ...
  • Indiana (6) ...
  • Ohio (7) ...
  • District of Columbia (8)
26 Jan 2021

Why are government schools not the first choice? ›

The secondary and higher secondary level government schools do not have adequate capacities, so the net enrolment falls, especially girls, sharply beyond the primary level. Problems associated with government school teachers: Teachers' professional development is a very weak area in government schools.

Is Texas a school choice state? ›

Texas has passed some school choice measures. VanDeaver points to the approval of the state's charter school system in the 1990s and giving students in low-performing schools the ability to transfer out of a district.

Is California a school choice? ›

In California, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.

What is the role of competition in the school choice movement? ›

Competition between schools, choice supporters also say, will lead to increased school accountability. And, increased school accountability, in turn, will encourage individual schools to experiment with different educational approaches in order to find those that work best for the students they serve (Raywid, 1992).

What is the #1 high school in the US? ›

1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Where does the US rank in high school education? ›

KEY FINDINGS

The U.S. ranks 14th in the world in the percentage of 25-34 year-olds with higher education (42%). have an upper secondary education are just 29% -- one of the lowest levels among OECD countries. enrolment rate.

What is the average high school dropout rate in America? ›

The overall status dropout rate decreased from 7.4 percent in 2010 to 5.3 percent in 2020.

What percentage of the US has a college degree? ›

As of 2021, 37.9% of adults in this age group held a bachelor's degree, including 14.3% who also obtained a graduate or professional degree, according to data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

What percentage of U.S. goes to college? ›

The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds was 40 percent in 2020.

What percentage of white males go to college? ›

Among males, college enrollment rates were higher in 2018 than in 2000 for those who were White (39 vs. 36 percent), Black (33 vs. 25 percent), and Hispanic (32 vs.

Who benefits the most from school choice? ›

At present, the school choice programs currently operating in 29 states plus Washington, D.C. primarily benefit children from low-income families and students with special needs.

Which US state is #1 in education? ›

1. Massachusetts. Massachusetts has the best public school system in the U.S. 48.8% of Massachusetts's eligible schools ranked in the top 25% of high school rankings, a total of 167 schools. Massachusetts has the highest math and reading test scores in the U.S. and the second-highest median ACT score of 25.1.

How many states in the US have school choice? ›

These programs currently exist in fourteen states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Why are government schools not good? ›

The Government School Hierarchy:

People feel there are not enough teachers in these schools, or the schools may not be functioning regularly. They get carried away by the notions of a branded private school, even though it may not have good teachers.

What is the problem of government school? ›

Infrastructure issues:

Most of them do not have proper infrastructure like class rooms, black boards, drinking water, toilets and sanitary facilities. The school environment is so suffocating that the students are dissuaded from attending the classes which is why the dropout rate is also high.

What are the problems in public schools? ›

Issues Regarding the Educational System
  • Quality of Education. First of which, is the quality of education. ...
  • Budget for Education. ...
  • Affordability of Education. ...
  • Drop-out Rate (Out-of-school youth) ...
  • Mismatch. ...
  • Brain Drain. ...
  • Social Divide. ...
  • Lack of Facilities and Teacher Shortage in Public Schools.

What is the Republican Party's position on education? ›

Most Republicans support school choice through charter schools and school vouchers for private schools; many have denounced the performance of the public school system and the teachers' unions.

What does school of choice mean in Texas? ›

School choice programs provide alternatives to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools, and charter schools.

Can a Texas public school deny enrollment? ›

A public school may not deny admission based on the presence of a disability, prior special education status, or §504 status. A district may choose to accept, as transfers, students who are not entitled to enroll in the district under §25.001.

Is there school choice in Arizona? ›

Arizona School Choice was created to help parents in Arizona navigate the many educational opportunities available to their children as they progress through grade school and beyond. It can be daunting to pick a school that best fits your child's needs.

What does school of choice mean in California? ›

School choice programs provide alternatives to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools, and charter schools.

Does San Diego have school choice? ›

1. Typically, more than 10,000 area students apply to the Choice program to attend one of more than 170 schools in San Diego Unified. Last year, about 75 percent of all students were secured a spot at one of their three school choices.

Why school should be a choice? ›

School choice makes schools more accountable.

School choice creates direct accountability to parents. It gives schools a strong incentivize to meet the needs of their students since unsatisfied parents can take their children and education dollars elsewhere.

Why Managed competition is better than a free market for schooling? ›

This managed competition approach provides many advantages. It shifts control down to those who are closest to students—their families and school leaders. It helps ensure that families have good options to choose from. It also creates healthy pressures on all schools to improve and meet students' needs.

What is expanding in education? ›

As in most of the literature, educational expansion is defined in terms of increases in rates of enrollment.

What is the most elite high school in America? ›

Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, beat out nearly 4,000 other schools to be ranked the best private high school in America for the fourth consecutive year.

What is the richest high school in the US? ›

The most expensive high school in the U.S. is Shortridge Academy. Like many of the priciest high schools, Shortridge Academy is a residential school, which boards its students for the school year.

What high school sends the most kids to Harvard? ›

Charlotte Latin School placed more students at three elite colleges — Harvard University, Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — during a four-year span than any other high school in the area, according to a new ranking by PolarisList.

What is the number 1 high school in the world? ›

1. Phillips Academy – Andover. Founded in 1778, Phillips Academy is an independent, co-educational secondary school for boarding and day students.

What country has the best education system? ›

Denmark. Denmark is certainly a top mention when it comes to discovering the best education system in the world, with a whopping 99 percent literacy rate. Denmark offers free education from kindergarten to university.

Which country has the hardest education? ›

Which country has the hardest education system? South Korea, Japan, Singapore are a few countries which have one of the hardest education systems.

Who is the most famous high school dropout? ›

Aretha Franklin dropped out at 15

She dropped out of high school at 15 to care for her first child. Franklin has since received numerous honorary degrees from universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the Berklee College of Music.

Which group is most likely to dropout of high school? ›

Male youth and young adults are more like than their female counterparts to have dropped out of high school. In 2016, 7 percent of males ages 16 to 24 were high school dropouts, compared with 5 percent of females.

What degree has the highest dropout rate? ›

Computing is the degree with the highest dropout rate — 10.7%. 47% of adults living with schizophrenia drop out from college. Only 11.6% of students who drop out end up transferring and getting their degrees elsewhere.

Who is the most educated race? ›

Asian Americans had the highest educational attainment of any race, followed by whites who had a higher percentage of high school graduates but a lower percentage of college graduates.

What state has the lowest education level? ›

West Virginia is the least educated U.S. state, with an overall score of 23.65. West Virginia ranks last for Educational Attainment with the lowest shares of people with associate degrees or some college experience and those with Bachelor's degrees, at 20.6%.

What percent of Americans have a PhD? ›

The number of doctoral degree holders has more than doubled to 4.5 million. Now, about 13.1 percent of U.S. adults have an advanced degree, up from 8.6 percent in 2000.

What percentage of us has a master's degree? ›

About 13.1 Percent Have a Master's, Professional Degree or Doctorate. The educational level of American adults is on the rise as more college graduates go on to earn master's, professional and doctoral degrees.

How many Americans are in college debt? ›

The most recent data highlights: Nearly $1.75 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt. About 48 million Americans have student loan debt (45.4 million of whom have federal debt). 4.7% of student loans were 90 days or more delinquent as of the first quarter of 2022.

Do most Americans go to university? ›

In 2020, about 37.9 percent of the U.S. population who were aged 25 and above had graduated from college or another higher education institution. This is a significant increase from 1960, when only 7.7 percent of the U.S. population had graduated from college.

Is it harder for Asians to get into college? ›

There are studies that suggest Asian-American applicants need to have higher grades and test scores than other applicants (including white applicants) to gain admission to top colleges.

What percent of the US population is Black? ›

What percentage of America is White? ›

Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. The White alone population accounted for 204.3 million people and 61.6% of all people living in the United States, compared with 223.6 million and 72.4% in 2010.

What does choice mean in education? ›

School choice programs provide alternatives to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools, and charter schools.

What does school choice mean in Florida? ›

School choice in Florida is a suite of state programs that allow families to use public resources to receive education outside of their neighborhood school. Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) program is the largest of its kind in the nation and serves more students than all but the state's largest school districts.

What is school choice in Texas? ›

In Texas, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods. Looking for special education options?

Do you have to pay for school of choice in Michigan? ›

Michigan Charter Schools

Charters are free, public schools open to all families.

What are the goals of school choice programs quizlet? ›

The goal of school choice programs is to (1) give parents more control over their child's education and (2) to allow parents to pursue the most appropriate learning environments for children.

What is the role of competition in the school choice movement? ›

Competition between schools, choice supporters also say, will lead to increased school accountability. And, increased school accountability, in turn, will encourage individual schools to experiment with different educational approaches in order to find those that work best for the students they serve (Raywid, 1992).

Does New York have school choice? ›

School Choice Options In New York

Families in New York can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

When did school choice start in Florida? ›

Florida's charter law was enacted in 1996 and places no cap on charter school growth. Under state law, charters may be authorized by local school boards, state universities, and community college district boards of trustees. There are currently 625 charter schools in the state, enrolling an estimated 239,996 students.

What does school choice mean in Georgia? ›

School choice programs provide alternatives to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools, and charter schools.

What does school of choice mean in Michigan? ›

Schools of Choice programs provide students with additional enrollment opportunities, which range from allowing students to determine which school within the resident district they will enroll, to allowing non-resident students to enroll in a district other than their own.

Does school choice exist in Texas? ›

There are a variety of school choice options available for many of the 7.1 million children living in Texas. Families in Texas can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

Can a Texas public school deny enrollment? ›

A public school may not deny admission based on the presence of a disability, prior special education status, or §504 status. A district may choose to accept, as transfers, students who are not entitled to enroll in the district under §25.001.

What is a choice school in Washington state? ›

Choice Schools and programs are optional schooling alternatives, created to meet specific needs and interests. They are designed to be smaller and use innovative approaches to education that are different from traditional public schools.

When did school of choice begin in Michigan? ›

Michigan's school of choice policy officially began in 1994 as part of the Prop A change in school finance, allowing school districts the option of allowing students from other school districts to enroll in their schools. The same policy change allowed the creation of charter schools.

Can you opt out of standardized testing in Michigan? ›

The Michigan Department of Education doesn't give parents the option of having their children "opt out" of state standardized tests. Parents may refuse to have their children take the test, but there are potential consequences to their school if enough students refuse.

How do I get Michigan school of choice? ›

Michigan school of choice process

Parents can find a school of choice Michigan list on their local ISD's website, which will list the participating districts for that school year. Be sure to check the deadlines and timelines for each district's school of choice application and enrollment process, Ciloski emphasizes.

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