School Choice Growing in the U.S.
Special Report - March 3, 2008
School choice programs that provide parents with more educational options for their children are expanding in the United States, according to a new report from The Heritage Foundation. The January 2008 report, “School Choice: Policy Development and National Participation Estimates in 2007-2008,” shows that 13 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently support private school choice programs where public funds are used for scholarships for private schools. Nationwide, nearly 150,000 children are participating in a private school choice, about one million children are being home schooled, and an estimated 1.2 million children are attending public charter schools, according to the report. Despite the millions of children who are benefiting from school choice, the report points out that the majority of students (an estimated 74 percent) still attend “government assigned public schools.”
As of November 2007, the report found that:
The Heritage Foundation report concludes by encouraging lawmakers at the federal and state levels to reform existing education policies to give all families the opportunity to choose the best schools for their children. Specifically, the report recommends that Congress and state lawmakers expand education savings account options for parents, expand public school choice such as promoting more charter schools, and enact education reforms that allow for private school tuition scholarships and/or tax credits.
- Eight states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Ohio, Vermont, Utah and Wisconsin) plus D.C. allow tax-payer funded scholarships for private schools, such as school voucher programs;
- Seven states (Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) “offer incentives for contributions to scholarship programs, or allow tax credits or deductions for education expenses, including private school tuition;”
- 40 states (including North Carolina) and D.C. have charter school laws; and
- All but four states plus D.C. offer some type of public school choice policy.
“Parents in North Carolina deserve more viable options when it comes to the education of their children, and studies show that school choice programs, such as charter schools, provide a broad array of benefits for parents, children and education in general,” said John Rustin, vice president and director of government relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “It is time for North Carolina lawmakers to lift the arbitrary charter school cap and join the growing number of states that recognize the positive power of school choice.”
North Carolina’s charter school law, which was enacted in 1995, allows only 100 charter schools to operate in the state. Legislation to increase or remove the charter school cap has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly for the past several years but none of the measures have been approved. As of 2006, there were nearly 28,000 students attending charter schools across the state.
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