Podcast: What Is Next for School Choice?

Henry Olsen (moderator)
American Enterprise Institute
November 10, 2008

This panel discussion combines a variety of opinions on school choice. Some of the topics discussed include vouchers, charters, special education, status of the poor in education, and future ideas for choice.

"Nearly two decades after the first modern school voucher program was enacted in Milwaukee, questions have emerged about whether school choice is capable of delivering the results that enthusiasts first promised. Today, although there are more than 4,000 charter schools and 150,000 students enrolled in private school choice programs, the impact of school choice on K-12 education remains largely unclear. AEI’s Frederick M. Hess argued in a recent article in The American magazine that choice too often substitutes for real market-based strategies. Others have suggested that choice undercuts academic standards and shows little evidence of advancing systemic reform in schools. Meanwhile, supporters maintain that such claims are misplaced and that choice-based reforms continue to make advances both on the ground and politically. As a result, the K-12 choice movement has made inroads on the left while raising concerns on the right. In light of the 2008 election, it is worth asking what is next for school choice. Joining Hess at this event will be Robert Enlow of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Howard Fuller of Marquette University, Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute, and Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform. AEI’s Henry Olsen will moderate."

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"Digital learning is more than the latest addition to education reformers’ to-do lists, filed along with teacher evaluations, charter schools, tenure reform, academic standards, and all the rest. It’s fundamentally different: for it to fulfill its enormous potential will require a wholesale reshaping of the reform agenda itself, particularly in the realms of school finance and governance....

"Perhaps Mr. Obama will reconsider his position on vouchers now that we have for the first time tracked the impact of a voucher program all the way from kindergarten (in 1997) to college enrollment (in 2011). Our study compared students who won a voucher lottery with students who didn't—the only difference between the groups was the luck of the draw, the gold standard in research design.

...

This article explains how virtual schools provide a wonderful school choice alternative to those who are nervous about homeschooling, cannot afford a private school, and are unsatisfied with their local public school options....

Writing as a liberal opponent of the school choice voucher idea, Anrig produces a piece claiming their ill-effectiveness and demise. Anrig dismisses research commonly used by conservatives to support school choice, declaring that the results are minuscule and fail to provide a credible...

"State Rep. Jack Harper (R-Surprise) has proposed legislation that would amend Arizona’s constitution to allow state-funded vouchers for disabled and foster children.

'I believe [a voucher] breaks down the barriers to competition and sharpens the focus of public schools to want to do a good job for every child,' he said."

"A new Arizona law that will significantly expand a school-voucher-type program allowing students to attend private schools with public money has been signed by the governor. ...

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill late Monday that expands Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which allow parents of disabled students to get a debit card and pay for educational expenses, such as private-...

This piece argues that Mississippi is missing out on a viable education option by not implementing more charter schools. Due to resistance from authorities, Mississippi has ignored the research showing the effectiveness of charter schools, and has instead continued to produce increasingly...

"Republican lawmakers are ramping up the battle over school choice in Minnesota.

They are pushing measures that would funnel taxpayer money to private schools by giving poor students in failing schools vouchers, and providing tax breaks for parents who pay tuition and businesses that donate to scholarship funds.

Proponents say the vouchers would empower low-income families and...

"Very high rates of family breakdown in the United States are subtracting from what very large numbers of students are learning in school—besides holding them back in many other ways.

This in turn is damaging the country economically, by making us less hospitable to innovation while also leaving millions of Americans less competitive in an increasingly demanding worldwide marketplace....

This article finds Frederick Hess exploring Gallup poll responses to questions about charter schools. The results from these studies show that many adults fail to understand that charter schools are publicly funded, non-religious, and non-selective in their pupil admission.

"A central component of the charter school concept is that every school has an authorizer. The role of an authorizer begins in the development stage of a charter, is critical throughout the life of the charter, and ends when a school is formally dissolved."

"Tradeoffs are an incurable part of reality. Unfortunately, many school choice supporters like to believe that there are no tradeoffs between school choice policies; public and private school choice, targeted or restricted, big or small, voucher or tax credits, it’s all choice and it’s all good. But some good things are better than others. And most things have some mix of positive and negative...

"In the U. S., parents are limited to three basic options when deciding how they want their children to be educated at the primary and secondary grade levels: (1) home schooling, (2) paying tuition to send their children to private schools, or (3) sending their children to the public schools closest to their homes.

Many parents, however, would like these options to be expanded, and some...

In a quick rebuttal to Greg Anrig's piece, which touts the failure of the voucher system, Chester Finn points out that vouchers would be more effective if they were allowed instead...

"The survival of school choice in Louisiana is at stake in a court battle that pits education reformers against teachers’ unions.

The Louisiana legislature approved Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reforms earlier this year, creating a voucher system that would give children state money to attend schools of their choice.

But the Louisiana Association of Educators has sued...

"Despite several decades of reform, public education in the United States is criticized by some as not teaching all children effectively. Consistently poor test results and low graduation rates attest to this. As a result, many taxpayers criticize public schools and demand better results. At the same time, many Americans express a deep faith in the ability of public education to address the...

"When students leave public schools using voucher programs, they free up more money for the students who remain. Taking a student out of public school removes the cost of educating that student. Most of these savings remain in local school budgets where they benefit other students; the rest of the savings go into state budgets. States and cities with school choice programs have all increased...

"As parents become increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of public schools, their interest in alternatives in the form of private, religious, charter, and homeschools is growing. However, the method of education funding remains a big obstacle between students and the quality education parents seek for their children. Most parents already pay for their child’s public education through...

"Whatever its other faults, the principal deficiency in our education system is revealed by the fact that while virtually all children respond enthusiastically to the prospect of starting school, after a few years most of them would prefer not to be there (at least not for the purpose of being educated).

Children are initially enthusiastic about education because it is natural for...

"It should anger black Americans that, for decades, government at all levels has denied black parents and their children the opportunity to pursue a quality education at the school of their choice, all in the name of politics. Generations of young black people are condemned to lives of desperation and hopelessness through the failure of our school system.

...

"The more that people begin to see education as a consumer choice, the more they will be unwilling to pay for other people's children. And if they have no children in school, then they have no reason to underwrite other people's private choices."

"Jeb Bush spoke to the Republican National Convention on his favorite subject: how to save American education by privatizing it.

Bush said that choosing a school should be like buying milk. ...

This is not a good analogy.

Isn't public education a public responsibility? Isn't it a public good? How can it be compared to something as trivial as shopping for milk?"

"Minnesota used to be the national leader in school choice. In 1956, Gov. Orville Freeman signed into law tax relief for parents who sent their children to private schools, and Govs. Rudy Perpich and Arne Carlson expanded alternatives to traditional public education in the 1980s and '90s. Nowadays, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Louisiana and the District of Columbia lead with more...

"Struggling Indiana public school districts are buying billboard space, airing radio ads, and even sending principals door to door in an unusual marketing campaign aimed at persuading parents not to move their children to private schools as the nation’s largest voucher program doubles in size.

The promotional efforts are an attempt to prevent the kind of student exodus that...

"More than 9,000 Indiana students are participating in Indiana's statewide voucher program during the 2012-13 school year, more than twice the number who enrolled in the program during its first year, according to recently-released numbers from the Indiana Department of Education.

The number of students enrolled in the program this year—more than 9,300 in total—makes the Indiana...

"Indiana's far-reaching voucher law, approved last year, includes a provision that kicks money back to districts around the state, many of which were losing students to private schools—and losing a slice of their per-pupil funding along with it.

Checks worth a combined $4.2 million in 'choice distribution payments' are scheduled to head out the door next month, to traditional public...

"Two clauses of the First Amendment concern the relationship of government to religion: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Although the clauses were intended by the framers to serve common values, there is some tension between the two."

"The new school year is barely a month old, but Falesha Augustus can already sense life is going to be very different for her 10-year-old son Willie.

The fourth grader was one of 4,944 Louisiana children fortunate enough to win a scholarship to a private school under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s expanded school voucher program.

Because Willie attended a failing school last year, he was...

"In a stunning move, attorneys representing the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) have threatened litigation against schools participating in the state’s voucher program.

The LAE recently filed suit, arguing that the voucher program is unconstitutional. The suit is currently pending in the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The union’s...

"A plan to allow some Cedar Rapids students to open enroll might cause a transportation tug-of-war for parents and caretakers.

Cedar Rapids Superintendent Dr. Dave Benson gave his recommendation to the school board Monday night on how to handle the district’s declining enrollment. He recommended shutting down Monroe’s early childhood center and Polk Elementary School. It’s a decision...

According to Carbone, school choice gives parents "the greatest chance to find the best educational opportunities for their children." This piece briefly explains three school choice options - charter schools, educational tax credits, and tuition assistance...

"Only 42 percent of Americans polled in the latest Phi Delta Kappa International/Gallup Poll say they are in favor of vouchers. Yet the same poll reports 57 percent of Americans say they would use full-tuition vouchers, if they were available, to enroll their children in private schools.

...

PDK/Gallup Poll

The 36th annual 'PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's...

This document finds the Home School Legal Defense Association - an organization one would think to be strongly in favor of school choice - vigorously rejecting the voucher idea. The basis for this rejection stems from the belief that vouchers would increase both the burden on taxpayers and...

"'School choice' refers to a number of different school alternatives such as interdistrict or intradistrict transfers, magnet schools, postsecondary enrollment options, charter schools, alternative learning centers, and private school choice through state funded vouchers or tax credits. Minnesotans currently have most of these options available to them."

"The charter school movement began in 1988 when Albert Shanker, American Federation of Teachers President, called for the reform of the public schools by establishing 'charter schools'. The basic charter concept is simple: a group of teachers or other would-be educators apply for permission to open a school. The school operates under a charter, a contract with the local school board or state....

This study contains careful research regarding the effects school choice competition has on public schools. Hoxby specifically studied schools in Arizona, Milwaukee, and Michigan, and from this research concluded that "critics of school choice have grossly underestimated the public school...

"Education vouchers and tuition tax credits face another source of opposition: from those fearful of government control of nonpublic schools. I share that concern and urge strong measures to minimize that likelihood. The question I pose to these critics is: Which is the more serious and costly risk, the increased government intervention in nonpublic schools that might accompany school choice...

In Adam Schaeffer's mind, school choice has a much better chance of succeeding with education tax credits than with vouchers. This is due to the fact that tax credits receive broader, "bipartisan" support from those who generally oppose allowing the government to have greater influence in private...

The NEA's take on school choice voucher programs is decidedly negative, for they contend that vouchers are costly, ineffective, and have low public support. This article offers an interesting look at how the mainstream public school system interprets the data and research available on school choice.

"Efforts to subsidize private education take a variety of forms, with the most familiar being the private school voucher that is provided directly to parents. But there are other less direct ways governments fund private education. One such method is to provide a tax credit to parents to offset their personal education expenses (education tax credit). Another is to allow individuals and...

"The Supreme Court's conservative majority opened the door for new state support for religious schools, ruling that special tax credits that pay for children to go to church schools cannot be challenged on constitutional grounds.

The 5-4 decision Monday is a major win for those who support the 'school choice' movement and aid to parochial schools, and a potentially far-reaching loss for...

"At issue in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn was a state tax credit for donations to organizations that offer scholarships for private schools, including (but not exclusively) religious schools. A group of taxpayers sued, claiming that religion was being subsidized on their dime, in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.

The district...

This article finds Adam Schaeffer presenting the idea that school choice tax credits are a better option than vouchers. Schaeffer believes that tax credit programs are easier to defend in courts, have many financial contributors, and "preserve the autonomy of independent schools." This article also...

"As Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislators consider how to improve urban education, they may want to ponder research findings like these:

Citing data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), political scientist Abigail Thernstrom and her historian husband, Stephan Thernstrom, have written about how African-Americans, by the 12th grade, 'are typically four years behind...

"There have been historical political trends regarding school choice--which includes, but is not limited to, charter schools, private school vouchers, and scholarship tax credits--and regardless of party, the opposition sticks to a familiar script. Why they're against it runs the gamut: the entrenched position of teachers' unions as superlative donors to Democratic campaigns, fear from...

"Most persons agree that children need the protection of the law against potential abuse by parents. But evidence shows that only a small minority of parents turn out to be delinquent. In practice it is very seldom indeed that governments remove children from their family home. At the end of the 1980s fewer than two children per 10,000 below the age of 18 were...

"School-choice supporters in Indianapolis are beside themselves. They've smacked right up against the inconvenient truth: Parents sometimes make bad choices."

"Regardless of where you fall on the issue of school choice, you should probably bone up on the arguments offered by the various sides in the debate."

Although a supporter of charter schools, Frederick Hess believes that caution should be exercised in touting test scores as evidence of success. Hess notes that charter schools originally wanted their success measured by how much children improved throughout the year, but with test scores putting charter schools...

Written from the viewpoint of a Berkeley law professor, this opinion piece argues that liberals are on the wrong track when they oppose school choice. Sugarman endorses charter schools and voucher programs on the grounds that they would help the lower income class escape the failing...

"Tuition tax credit programs are a growing school choice option some states are exploring. As of September 2012, 14 tuition tax credit programs exist in 11 states. These programs, also known as scholarship tax credit programs, allow individuals and corporations to allocate a portion of their owed state taxes to private nonprofit school tuition organizations that issue scholarships to K-12...

"What is a voucher? Private school vouchers are any form of public payment to help parents send their children to private schools, including religious schools. They may take the form of direct government payments to parents, tax credits parents can take for tuition payments, or 'scholarships' from nonprofit organizations that receive donations for which the donors, in turn, receive a tax...

"Open-enrollment charter schools are public schools that have the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students. Open-enrollment charter schools vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students, many with needs beyond the one-size-fits-all traditional public school. Often, these charter schools provide a personalized learning environment that promotes greater...

"Magnet schools - this article will help you better understand what they are and what their role may be in your family’s education. We’ll first introduce the concept of a Magnet school. Then we’ll go over in detail the function that Magnet schools have played originally and currently. After that we’ll share some basic facts about Magnet schools as well as go over pro and con positions...

"School Choice is…

…a common sense idea that gives all parents the power and freedom to choose their child’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools and other institutions to better serve students’ needs and priorities.

…a public policy that allows a parent/guardian or student to choose a district, charter, or private school, regardless of residence and...

"Last year we saw an unprecedented wave of new school choice programs launch across the country. These hard-won political victories for the choice movement also consolidated important improvements in program design. Following 20 years of heated debate, new programs reflect a growing sophistication regarding the design and implementation of school choice policies."

"While the education film Waiting For Superman has moving profiles of students struggling to succeed under difficult circumstances, it puts forward a sometimes misleading and other times dishonest account of the roots of the problem and possible solutions. The amped-up rhetoric of crisis and failure everywhere is being used to promote business-model...

"Pop Quiz: What’s the best education policy a moderate politician in Virginia can pursue?

1. Vouchers

2. Charter Schools

3. Education Tax Credits

Conventional wisdom says go with charter schools, because they are a...

Citing a variety of education vouchers that liberals have wholeheartedly supported - such as the G.I. Bill and Pell Grant - Dan Lips wonders why liberals are so opposed to offering school vouchers to students in grades K-12. According to Lips, "a widespread change of heart in the Democratic...

"Minnesota was one of the pioneering states in public school choice, with open enrollment — allowing parents to enroll their children in any public school district in the state — beginning in the 1990-91 school year. A few year[s] later, Minnesota instituted charter schools, further increasing public school choice options for parents.

As such, school districts found themselves competing...

"President Bush wants to help kids in failing public schools. That's good. He wants to do it by giving them federal vouchers to attend private schools. That's bad.

The president is right to favor parental choice and competition between schools. Educational freedom has a long and illustrious history reaching all the way back to...

"What we need is not a marketplace, but a coherent curriculum that prepares all students. And our government should commit to providing a good school in every neighborhood in the nation, just as we strive to provide a good fire company in every community.

On our present course, we are disrupting communities, dumbing down our schools, giving students false reports of their progress, and...

"IF you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he’s been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it’s time for middle school, and there’s been no neighborhood option...

Chart or Graph

The data in this chart shows the education choices of the members of the 111th United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans in general, as well as members of specific committees in particular.

"If Detroit were to maintain its faster rate of improvement, it would close the achievement gap between its students and Grosse Pointe’s students in just under two decades."

Caroline Hoxby's "Rising Tide" article studies the effects school choice competition has on public school achievement.

This graph shows what percentage of the members of Congress send their children to public and private school.

"Since 1987, Iowa, Minnesota, Arizona, and Illinois have each enacted education tax credit laws geared toward helping low income families, combating poor quality of public education, and helping students with learning disabilities."

This chart compares race relations between public and private schools.

Education Scholarships allow businesses to receive a tax credit for the money they give to children for private education.

"A total of 54,031 families claimed the education credit in tax year 2008, at an estimated average benefit of $264 each, for a total cost of $14.2 million. Table 5 shows the cost and number of recipients in tax years 1998 through 2008."

"Aud also found that every city and state with a school choice program had seen instructional spending per student rise since the enactment of the program. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics confirm that the same holds true for total education spending (see accompanied graph)."

"Chart 2 shows the percentage of Florida’s black and Hispanic students who scored 'basic' or better in 1998 compared to white students nationally, as well as the same achievement data from the 2009 exam."

"Chart 1 presents achievement gap data from the fourth-grade reading NAEP, beginning before the Florida reforms (1998) and moving to the present."

This chart details the demographics of people who took a survey regarding their opinion on what type of school they would send their child to in an ideal world.

"States have pursued a range of different open enrollment policies. ... Figure 3 shows which states have enacted policies that are interdistrict, intradistrict, or a combination of both."

"The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP)…is a successful voucher program that provides scholarships to low-income children in Washington, D.C., to attend a private school of choice. The Obama Administration would eliminate this program while continuing to spend billions of dollars on many ineffective and duplicative education programs."

This chart compares the NAEP scores for low-income children in Florida and Minnesota. Children in Florida have experienced many more school choice opportunities in recent years than children in Minnesota.

"The most recent numbers available cover the 2010-11 school year, and they show that District 112 [Carver County School District] lost a net of 783 students (about 8% of base enrollment, or about two sections per grade level) to open enrollment and charter school options."

This chart compiles a variety of surveys on parental satisfaction with choice or public schools in several different cities. The numbers indicate that there is a much higher level of satisfaction with choice schools than with public schools.

"Last year, we documented the lowest level of support for private school vouchers with only 34% in favor. However, this year's approval rating jumped 10 percentage points to 44%."

"Figure 1 shows how the relative incomes of individuals vary depending on the traits of their schools."

In 2012 there were 10 scholarship tax credit school choice programs in the United States. This chart details the length of each program and the number of students and funding used for each program in the 2011-2012 school year.

"I find that winning a lottery for admission to a preferred school at the high school level reduces the total number of felony arrests and the social cost of crime."

"The Friedman Foundation has released another in their invaluable series of state education polls, this time for once-purple Virginia."

This chart offers a brief overview of key school choice programs in 18 states.

This map of the United States singles out the handful of states which have school choice programs. The three different types of programs include vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and special needs programs.

"No matter how the question is worded, tax credits elicit higher levels of support than do school vouchers (see Figure 9)."

This chart shows the multiple studies done on the effect voucher programs have on public school achievement.

A timeline of the various education credits in Minnesota's history.

"Studies using random assignment, the gold standard of social science, consistently find that students using school vouchers have higher academic achievement than students who applied for vouchers but lost a random lottery and did not receive them."

In 2012 there were 15 school choice voucher programs in the United States. This chart details the length, number of students, and cost of each voucher program.

Chart shows gains made by public schools in voucher areas.

This chart shows how many members of congress attended public and private schools, by both absolute amount and relative percentage.

In his article "Polls Show Vouchers Are Popular and Would Be Widely Used," George Clowes insinuates that many parents would be happy to have the opportunity to use a school choice voucher.

Analysis Report White Paper

A central issue in school choice is the design of a student assignment mechanism. Education literature provides guidance for the design of such mechanisms but does not offer specific mechanisms. The flaws in the existing school choice plans result in appeals by unsatisfied parents.

This study examines the fiscal impact of model legislation that would create Education Access Grants in Minnesota. The legislation would provide grants for low-income students to attend private schools. Specifically, this study examines the effect of implementing Education Access Grants in Minneapolis, the state’s largest metropolitan area.

Nearly ten years ago, Minnesota adopted choice-based school integration rules. The results have been disastrous.

Over the past 11 months, the school voucher movement has suffered one major political setback after another. In the face of these defeats and a new national poll showing record-high support for public schools, voucher proponents are seriously rethinking their strategy. Many of them are now embracing and endorsing a different tactic: tax credits for private school tuition.

This report surveys the empirical research on school choice. It provides a thorough overview of what the research has found on five key topics: Academic outcomes of choice participants, Academic outcomes of public schools, Fiscal impact on taxpayers, Racial segregation in schools, and Civic values and practices.

This report collects the results of all available empirical studies using the best available scientific methods to measure how school vouchers affect academic outcomes for participants, and all available studies on how vouchers affect outcomes in public schools.

In 2009, the East Valley Tribune and the Arizona Republic alleged that Arizona's individual income tax-credit scholarship program disproportionately serves privileged students from higher-income families over those from lower-income backgrounds. Yet neither paper collected the student-level, scholarship recipient family income data needed to verify their allegation.

Providing many charts, graphs, and grading scales, this paper studies the availability and workability of school choice in each of the fifty states. In addition to this work, Michael Van Winkle provides information on the types of school choice options, including charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools, vouchers, and tax credits.

"In 1930, the federal government paid for less than 0.5 percent of the costs of public education in the United States; by 2000, the federal government’s contribution had risen to more than 7 percent, with virtually all the rest coming from state and local government sources. This is a nearly twentyfold increase in government spending in what had traditionally been a locally funded enterprise....

"An education gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers is something to which most Americans have become accustomed. But this racial division of education—and hence of prospects for the future— is nothing less than tragic."

School voucher and education tax credit programs have proliferated in the United States over the past two decades. Advocates have argued that they will enable families to become active consumers in a free and competitive education marketplace, but some fear that these programs may in fact bring with them a heavy regulatory burden that could stifle market forces.

Educational choice is hardly a modern innovation. In some ways, it dates back at least as far as ancient Athens with its marketplace of sophists and philosophers. In the Anglo-American context, explicit proposals for state-funded arrangements that would let parents choose how their children would be educated can be traced to the writings of Thomas Paine in the late 18th century.

In this study, I investigate whether the opportunity to attend a school other than a student's assigned neighborhood school reduces criminal activity, especially among disadvantaged youth. Many of the schools chosen by the students were 'better' on traditional indicators, such as student test scores and teacher characteristics.

Due to the effective nature of offering individual tuition tax credits to families in Arizona, Olsen suggests that the state expand its tuition tax credit program to allow the corporate world to invest and benefit from these tax credits as well.

Education choice exercises a powerful pull on parents of school children: Twenty-four percent report that they moved to their current neighborhood so their children could attend their current school; 15 percent of public school students attend parent-selected rather than district-assigned schools.

The following report attempts to help answer questions about Minnesota’s school choice programs. We try to provide facts, figures and some faces involved in Minnesota’s school choice programs. We believe it is the first effort to document the number of Minnesota students ‘actively selecting’ a school under Minnesota’s local and statewide programs.

This article seems to come to the conclusion that school choice is still a very viable option, but in order to make it so, policy, standards, and competition must first take place.

This study establishes a set of criteria on which to evaluate the 13 prominent school choice programs in the United States, and then assigns a letter grade to each according to their choice-friendly rating.

This paper highlights the relative academic achievement gains in Florida compared to Minnesota and concludes by offering recommendations for policymakers in Minnesota who wish to learn from Florida’s experience.

This lengthy report documents how media and other opponents of school choice have engaged in a campaign to discredit the movement. Fuller and Caire give many examples of misstatements and omissions by school choice opponents, as well as the factual realities concerning this subject that the average U.S. citizen never hears.

When measuring the returns to education, economists tend to focus on attainment, typically using the number of years of schooling. Most people, however, would concede that the quality of the schooling also matters.

This study presents new findings comparing public and private high schools using top-quality data from the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS), a long-term research project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The ELS project tracks individual data on thousands of students, allowing researchers to conduct much better analyses than are possible with school-level data.

"President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request includes another major spending increase for the Department of Education—2.5 percent more than last year—to nearly $70 billion. American taxpayers are calling for spending restraint in Washington, yet President Obama's proposals would exacerbate the existing bureaucratic maze of federal programs and further remove educational decision-making authority...

There are a number of school choice initiatives underway in the U.S. K-12 education system, including: charter schools, magnet schools, alternative programs, private school tuition vouchers, homeschooling, and open enrollment—the focus of this report.

"The U.S. state that has pioneered the open enrollment concept the furthest is Minnesota. And indeed much interest and excitement is being shown there this year because of what is thought to be a crucial new modification. The state has announced that up to $4,000 in state aid will move with each child who transfers from one public school to another."

Deep and important divisions are roiling America in this election year, and education is not immune to those divides. Results from the 44th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools show that Americans have a number of conflicting and hardening viewpoints in their appraisal of and preferences for directing, managing, and investing in the schools.

The ABCs of School Choice is designed to guide your efforts—whether your goal is to promote educational options in your own state, or simply to understand the concept better. We at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice hope you find this guide to be an essential aid as you continue working to give parents the choices they desire—and the education their children deserve.

"The most frequently asked questions about school choice are: Do public schools respond constructively to competition induced by school choice, by raising their own productivity? Does students’ achievement rise when they attend voucher or charter schools? Do voucher and charter schools end up with a selection of the better students ('cream-skim')?"

2011 has been a milestone year for school choice, setting the bar high for state legislatures across the country to increase families’ educational options. What began with a crucial re-authorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program continued with 12 states creating or expanding school choice options.

Education funding issues often go hand in hand with the issue of school choice. This particular piece focuses on the school choice funding option of vouchers. Casey Lartigue covers the implementation of school vouchers in Washington D.C. and seeks to demonstrate both their academic and cost effectiveness.

The school choice revolution that swept the nation in 2011 yielded the creation of seven new programs — with 27 total publicly funded private school choice programs. This year, more than 210,000 children participate in school choice programs, a record number.

"Ten Principles of School Choice" provides readers with a detailed and understandable guide to the issues involved with school choice. Listing familiar ideas as vouchers and competition, this document also argues that school choice will enable more effective instruction in "democratic values" and will help free teachers from constraining unions.

In this, the second annual national survey of U.S. adults conducted under the auspices of Education Next and the Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University, we observe a public that takes an increasingly critical view both of public schools as they exist today and, perhaps ironically, of many prominent reforms designed to improve them.

As noted in a previous report by the Brown Center, Expanding Choice in Elementary and Secondary Education, education choice exercises a powerful pull on parents of school children: a quarter of parents of school-aged children report that they moved to their current neighborhood for the school.

In the first study using a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment, we examine the college-going behavior through 2011 of students who participated in a voucher experiment as elementary school students in the late 1990s.

This piece contains extensive details concerning the financial effects of a school choice tax credit program. Coulson and Cotet carefully explain how they arrived at their findings, while strongly advancing their belief that tax credits for school choice will greatly reduce education costs. This document...

In February 2008 and March 2009, the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) issued its first report and subsequent update on the fiscal impact of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) on taxpayers in Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. ... These reports covered the period 1993-2009

This report provides the first detailed picture of the features of the rural school bus ride. Data were provided by rural elementary school principals in Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington: states chosen to represent diversity in region, locale (rural and suburban), and ethnic composition.

Education savings accounts are the way of the future. Under such accounts—managed by parents with state supervision to ensure accountability—parents can use their children’s education funding to choose among public and private schools, online education programs, certified private tutors, community colleges, and even universities.

This piece explains the background behind school choice's landmark Supreme Court case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, and also demonstrates why this case received a more positive ruling than previous cases on the subject.

"The survey results shed light on the major disconnect between parental schooling preferences and actual school enrollments [in Virginia]."

This factsheet, provided by The Heritage Foundation, countains bullet-point style information regarding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.

This report examines what has happened since 1985 with four statewide Minnesota public school choice laws. These include open enrollment, Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, Second Chance options, and charter public schools. This two-year study reached the following major findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Video/Podcast/Media

Andrew Coulson discusses school choice and how its components overlap with the idea of educational freedom. According to Coulson, however, not all of the ideas that make up school choice are compatible with educational freedom.

"Diane Ravitch of NYU talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Ravitch argues that the two most popular education reform...

This podcast is a discussion on the issue of school choice, and whether voucher programs and privatization of education is actually enough to improve America's educational system.

This panel discussion combines a variety of opinions on school choice. Some of the topics discussed include vouchers, charters, special education, status of the poor in education, and future ideas for choice.

"Nearly two decades after the first modern school voucher program was enacted in Milwaukee,...

"'We take for granted in our lives, choice, in every other area, whether it's Pop Tarts or cereal or cell phones. But really education is the most important thing,' said Reason's Director of Education Lisa Snell, 'Especially as a parent, you want your kids to have a solid education.'

Snell makes the case that school choice is now at a tipping point. In the United States, more charter...

In this clip, Adam Schaeffer discusses how almost everyone from conservative free market thinkers to the head of a teachers' union is for school choice. Their definitions of what actually makes up that school choice vary widely.

"Joel Klein, Fmr. New York City Schools Chancellor: America’s approach to education is haphazard, I call it the 'Wizard of Oz' approach; it’s unsustainable, it’s not working and we need to try something new."

As a single mother of a special needs child, Andrea Weck describes her own personal experience with school choice. Due to Arizona's scholarship and voucher program, Weck's daughter has been able to begin to overcome her disabilities, but the efforts of teacher unions and the ACLU to abolish school choice threaten to end those gains. This video deals with the social justice aspect of school...

"Update: In a major legal victory for school choice, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a frivolous legal challenge to Arizona's innovate private school scholarship tax credit program. (April 4, 2011) ...

On November 3, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in the case Garriot v. Winn. Arizona, like many states, offers tax credits to individuals and businesses for...

"The president says he wants to do 'what's best for kids.' So why won't he save a proven program that helps low-income students?

The program is wildly popular with parents and children—there are four applicants for every available slot—and a recent Department of Education study found that participants do significantly better than their public school peers. Indeed, after three years...

"Should the future of lower-income children be determined by their ZIP codes? By public school bureaucrats? 

Reason.tv Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie sat down with Madeline Sackler, director of the critically acclaimed documentary, The Lottery, which follows four students in New York vying for a coveted slot at Harlem Success Academy. Entry to the...

"Competition promotes innovation and results in higher quality and lower costs. Government-run schools are a tragic example, by contrast, of why monopolies generate bad results. This video uses the example of school choice to explain why competition is a better approach."

"Andrew Coulson, director of the Center for Education Freedom at the Cato Institute, believes giving businesses tax credits for sending kids to private school is the most effective way to expand school choice. The regulatory and legal obstacles to charters schools and vouchers, he argues, present too many hassles to work around.

Reason.tv sat down with...

"Joel Klein, Fmr. New York City Schools Chancellor: The families with the greatest need have the least amount of school choice and this lack of empowerment is detrimental to a population that’s desperate for access to quality education."

"Joel Klein, Fmr. New York City Schools Chancellor: We need to rid bureaucrats power of their power and give it to parents because parental choice gives us our best chance for fixing the system."

"An introduction to school choice featuring John Stossel."

"As chancellor of New York City's Department of Education from 2002-2010, Joel Klein oversaw dramatic changes to the largest school system in the country. He worked hard to increase choice and accountability by increasing the autonomy and accountability of principals and championing charter schools. He also fought (with mixed success) to make it easier to hire and...

"Politicians claim to want better schools, but do they actually vote for them?"

"Before hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, New Orleans had one of the worst performing public school districts in the nation. Katrina forced nearly a million people to leave their homes and caused almost $100 billion in damages. To an already failing public school system, the storm seemed to provide the final deathblow. But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina,...

"Let Me Rise– a 30-minute film produced by The Heritage Foundation about the school choice debate in our nation’s capital and around the country – offers a compelling look at the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as told through the voices of the children whose educational futures continue to hang in the balance. The film features the personal stories and perspectives of...

"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."

"Parents, Community leaders gather to send a message to the Chicago Board of Education. They say they want more school choice options."

Michelle Bernard compares famous historical icons - such as Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony - and the deeds they did to the school choice issues women and their children face today.

Michelle Bernard discusses how black families fought for education equality during the Civil Rights era. Bernard posits that the absence of school choice is once again becoming a racial inequality problem in today's education sector.

"Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do the right thing. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in The Cartel. The film also introduces us to teens who can't read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable...

"John Stossel, Walter E Williams and Thomas Sowell comment on how market forces can improve education in America."

The Center for Educational Freedom’s Adam B. Schaeffer responds to Richard Buddin’s policy analysis, “The Impact of Charter Schools on Public and Private School Enrollments.” In this video, Schaeffer recounts that approximately 190,000 students currently enrolled in charter schools came from private schools, costing taxpayers about $1.8 billion. He then summarizes his proposed solution to the...

"'You either pay the $16,500 now for our children's public education or you pay the $35,000 or $40,000 later for public assistance, sitting on grandma's couch or in prison,' says Anthony H. Williams.

Williams is a long-time Philadelphia-area state senator who is running for the Democratic Party nomination in the Keystone State. Williams is also an ardent supporter of school choice and...

In a testimony before the Minnesota House Education Finance committee, Minneapolis school board member Alberto Monserrate declares that charter schools and vouchers generally do not solve the education problems that Minnesota faces.

"School choice offers families the opportunity to select schools that meet their child's needs. Watch the video from Heritage Foundation explaining school choice, how it benefits parents and children and why school choice is needed."

"In dealing with the press, Mayor Rahm Emanuel often tries to emulate his former boss, President Barack Obama. But Emanuel can’t match Obama’s calm demeanor.

In fact Emanuel’s temper can get the best of him. I found out yesterday when I asked him a question about where his children would go to school, and he let his famous temper emerge."

"Nate Hennagin, Legislative Assistant at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, explains why private school vouchers are a bad idea."

Primary Document

The revised descendant of the United States' first charter school law, this document thoroughly describes the permissible and impermissible for Minnesota charter schools. This law covers everything from who can be a charter school board member to who is responsible for providing child...

"An individual is allowed a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter in an amount equal to 75 percent of the amount paid for education-related expenses for a qualifying child in kindergarten through grade 12."

"Respondents, Arizona taxpayers, sued petitioner Director of the State Department of Revenue, challenging Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §43–1089 on Establishment Clause grounds. The Arizona law gives tax credits for contributions to school tuition organizations, or STOs, which then use the contributions to provide scholarships to students attending private schools, including religious schools....

"You know better than I that we have the largest group of school children we've ever had and that it is more diverse in every way than it has ever been. The future of our whole country rests so much on how well we educate our children, and you have been chosen in your communities to carry that torch into a new century. It is a great honor and a heavy responsibility, and I thank you for...

This hearing contains testimony on school choice from school superintendents such as Lisa Graham Keegan and Spence Korte, Institute for Justice Vice President Clint Bolick, and a parent from the Milwaukee school district. These witnesses advocate for...

"The District of Columbia School Choice Incentive Act of 2003, passed by Congress in January 2004, established the first federally funded, private school voucher program in the United States. As part of this legislation, Congress mandated a rigorous evaluation of the impacts of the Program, now called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). This final evaluation report presents the...

"The DC School Choice Incentive Act of 2003 established the first federally funded private school voucher program in the United States, providing scholarships of up to $7,500 for low-income residents of the District of Columbia to send their children to local participating private schools. The law also mandated that the Department conduct an independent, rigorous evaluation of what is now...

"Here in Minnesota, from St. Paul and Minneapolis to Cyrus and Miltona, you're sailing this country into the future. You are creating public school choice. Minnesota is out front, it is the wave of the future, and you are to be congratulated."

"Minnesota has had an income tax credit for public and nonpublic education-related expenses since 1998 and a dependent education expense deduction since 1955. This information brief outlines the legislative and legal history of the deduction and credit, their effects on tax liability, and education tax credit and deduction programs in nine other states."

"The basic issue in this declaratory judgment action is whether a Minnesota law permitting parents of students attending public and private schools to claim up to $700.00 a year of the expense as a deduction on their state income tax return has the primary effect of advancing religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. We find...

Jesse Ventura responds to whether or not he supports public school alternatives.

"We, the people of the state of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution."

"An act relating to taxation; permitting credits against the state income tax for education costs for pupils in nonpublic elementary and secondary schools; amending Minnesota Statutes 1969, Chapter 290, by adding sections."

"Minnesota allows taxpayers, in computing their state income tax, to deduct certain expenses incurred in providing for the education of their children. Minn. Stat. § 290.09, subd. 22 (1982). ... The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, was not offended by...

John Stuart Mill was a British political philosopher and politician. In this classic essay, he argues that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

"In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the United States Supreme Court declared Cleveland's school voucher program constitutional under the federal Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The decision upholds the right of eligible Cleveland parents to use publicly funded vouchers to send their children to private religious schools. The decision also provides constitutional support for existing...

Friedman, one of the original proponents and ideologues of the school choice voucher system, calmly presents his rationale concerning the need for school choice. Using the free enterprise grocery system to illustrate his point, Friedman demonstrates the ridiculousness of not allowing an...

"My record for the last eighteen years on the school question is before the country, and I defy any man, friend or foe, to point his finger to the sentence, the word, or the syllable I have ever uttered in advocacy of dividing the school fund on a sectarian basis, or any other than a parental basis, without distinction of creeds, parties, or factions."

This transcript contains President Obama's ambitions for American education. The speech demonstrates Obama's opinions on school choice issues, particularly charter schools and vouchers.

"The National Education Association (NEA) respectfully submits these comments for the record in conjunction with the May 13, 2009 hearing conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, entitled 'The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: Preserving School Choice for All.'"

In an appearance before the Senate Education Committee, Brooke Terry presents the great need for special education scholarships in Texas. Terry argues for school choice by citing the success of the McKay Scholarship program in Florida, while also demonstrating...

"Thank you ever so much for your very kind invitation to consider with you Minnesota's approach to school choice. All of us have heard endless testimony relative to declining test scores, the inability of our students to compete internationally, and the growing threat to America's future if we do not better prepare our young people. Frankly, I do not believe that any one of us will be able to...

"It is my belief that the public education system is unable to reform itself. While there are many wonderful and dedicated teachers, large, impersonal and bureaucratic school districts make reforms difficult, if not impossible, to implement. School choice is a partial solution to this problem. Giving parents maximum school choice will not only allow parents to put their children in better...

"This information brief examines the constitutionality of education vouchers under state and federal law. The brief discusses (1) Minnesota's relevant constitutional provisions, (2) constitutional challenges to education vouchers in other states, and (3) federal constitutional provisions that are implicated in this discussion. A chart at the end shows U.S. Supreme Court decisions on...

Executive Summary:


"The District of Columbia School Choice Incentive Act of 2003, passed by Congress in January 2004, established the first federally funded, private school voucher program in the United States. As part of this legislation, Congress mandated a rigorous evaluation of the impacts of the Program, now called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). This...

This document presents many of the original arguments for school choice and the voucher system. Coming from an economist's perspective, Milton Friedman suggests that "denationalization of education" would be beneficial to parents, children, and society. The laws of supply and demand,...

This act was written by Jefferson in 1779 and passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1786.

"No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to."

Governor Tim Pawlenty announces the authorization of Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools in the state of Minnesota.

"The following is a transcript of a speech that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice gave at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29, 2012."

"Having in all the preceding parts of this work endeavoured to establish a system of principles as a basis on which governments ought to be erected, I shall proceed in this, to the ways and means of rendering them into practice. But in order to introduce this part of the subject with more propriety, and stronger effect, some preliminary observations, deducible from, or connected with, those...

"Parental choice is the very definition of parental engagement. Choice empowers parents to decide what educational delivery system – be it traditional public school, charter school, or private school – best meets the specific needs of their child. Choice programs all across the country show that parental engagement via school choice improves educational outcomes for participating students,...

This decision upheld the constitutionality of the Cleveland Scholarship Program that provides financial assistance to parents to use for tuition at private or out of district public schools or for tutoring services.

Books

FAQs

This FAQ provides some background on education in Minnesota, which in turn will help one to understand today's state of education.

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