2011 School Choice Victories
Special Report - August 22, 2011
Legislative efforts to expand parental choice in education were “unprecedented” in 2011, with lawmakers in the majority of states, including North Carolina, introducing or passing measures aimed at supporting school choice, according to a new report from The Heritage Foundation. The August 17 Backgrounder report, “School Choice in America 2011: Educational Opportunity Reaches New Heights,” shows that through August of this year, 41 states and the District of Columbia have introduced or enacted some form of school choice legislation.
According to the report, 18 states and D.C. currently have policies that are supportive of private school choice. Of these states (note that some states have more than one form of private school choice):
- 9 states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island), now offer “tax credits to encourage businesses and individuals to make donations to organizations that provide tuition scholarships to student to attend private school.”
- 9 states plus D.C. offer voucher programs (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and D.C.)
- 5 states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota) “offer tax deductions to reduce their state income-tax liabilities by taking deductions on education-related expenses, including private-school tuition.”
- Over 200,000 students are benefiting from private school choice, through vouchers, tuition tax credits, and education savings accounts.
Additionally, 46 states and D.C. provide public school choice, with most (40), like North Carolina, doing so through the form of public charter school laws.
While school choice legislation was introduced in the majority of states in 2011, about a dozen states have enacted school choice laws to date. According to the report, of the 41 states to introduce school choice legislation in 2011, North Carolina is among the 12 states plus D.C. to institute reforms to expand or create school choice. The report notes that North Carolina passed legislation (HB 344-Tax Credits for Children With Disabilities) to “implement its first private-school choice program, a tuition tax-credit program for families of special needs students” and to lift the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools (SB 8-No Cap on the Number of Charter Schools).
“If we hope to improve education for all children, federal, state, and local policymakers should support policies that expand school choice options for families and put educational power in the hands of parents,” the authors write, noting that according to the latest research on school choice programs, the benefits of school choice include: greater academic achievement for students; greater parental satisfaction with education; and increased student safety. The report concludes by recommending that state and federal policymakers do more to expand both private and public school choice through a variety of means, including creating and expanding education savings account programs, expanding online learning programs, and implementing laws to protect homeschooling.
“This report should be a wake-up call to everyone who is interested in the education of children and the empowerment of parents to make the best education decisions for their own children,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “The days are over when one can sit back and expect the public education system to correct itself. Parents and legislators should continue with strong and meaningful reforms.”
School Choice Expansion Breaks Record - July 6, 2011
Pro-Family Bills Become Law - July 1, 2011
2011 Legislative Review - June 22, 2011
Arizona School Choice Upheld - April 5, 2011
Charter School Cheekmate - FNC - Summer 2010
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