School Choice At a Glance

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What You Need to Know

  • School choice refers to policies that allow students and their families to control a portion of a student’s allotted state funds to attend any school of the family’s choice, whether that school is traditional public, charter, private, virtual, homeschool, or a custom combination thereof.
  • Studies have shown that most school choice programs improve test scores and academic performance, along with boosting education attainment outcomes, university enrollment and persistence, and even lowering the likelihood that students will have contact with the criminal justice system as young adults.
  • Every child deserves to experience the best education possible for his or her unique talents and challenges. Families know what educational experience is best for their children, not bureaucrats.
  • Contrary to some rhetoric, educational options are vitally important to students in rural areas where fewer schools and learning programs exist, or where students and families want the opportunity to pursue alternative coursework to that which is offered at a one-size-fits-all, brick-and-mortar school.
  • Schools in economically-challenged communities are also at risk, as many schools in poorer areas suffer fail to provide quality educational opportunities, either to underfunding or neglect.
  • Vouchers, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), and Tax Credit Scholarships are all educational choice programs that allow students to put the dollars the state spends on their educations towards the best educational environment for them. Though these programs have similar goals, they operate differently and those policy differences can be meaningful for parents, students, schools, and education providers.
  • State legislators support school choice. A September 2016 survey conducted by Ed Choice revealed that the majority of legislators are in favor of school choice initiatives, with ESAs, vouchers and public charter schools receiving approval rates of 61, 52, and 67 percent respectively.
  • The public supports school choice. Polling by Ed Choice in 2015 revealed that the American public supports ESAs, vouchers and tax credit scholarships by a national average of 62, 61, and 60 percent, respectively.
  • In June 2017, The U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. The Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Trinity Lutheran, concluding that states do not have the power to bar religious institutions from receiving state aid for a neutral or secular purpose. This ruling could be a major step forward for education choice and opportunity, and sets a strong precedent for funding for private schools.
  • All students and their families are better off with the ability to choose the best educational options for them, however that learning is delivered.

Primer: The Case For School Choice

Primer: Education Savings Accounts Explained