Record School Choice Expansion
Special Report - January 30, 2012
A record number of America’s children are enrolled in private school choice programs for the 2011-2012 school year after “the largest expansion of education opportunity in American history,” according to the Alliance for School Choice. The group, which seeks “to improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children,” released its annual School Choice Now: The Year of School Choice on January 26. The report offers “the most comprehensive data on the nation’s 27 private school choice programs” by analyzing “trends and information regarding school choice, [and includes] a directory of the accountability provisions and requirements for each of the 27 private school choice programs, and a chronicle of the events from the past year.”
According to the report, in 2011, seven new school choice programs began in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Douglas County, Colorado. These additions mean that students in 13 states plus the District of Columbia and Douglas County, Colorado, now benefit from “active publicly funded private school choice programs.” Eleven existing programs “were expanded and strengthened by increasing enrollment caps, expanding eligibility requirements, increasing scholarship caps, removing barriers for individuals and corporations to donate, increasing funding, and creating strong accountability measures.” Only nine states did not see any form of school choice bill introduced during the 2011 legislative session.
The report highlighted North Carolina’s enactment of “a significant tax credit for families who send children with special needs to private schools,” boasting that the program “can benefit upwards of 200,000 families.” The report additionally mentioned North Carolina’s successful efforts to eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state. The report’s findings include:
- The number of children enrolled in private school choice programs in the United States has grown by nearly 25 percent since 2007 to a total of more than 210,000 participating students in 2011-2012.
- The seven newly enacted school choice programs include “four voucher programs, one scholarship tax credit program, one individual tuition tax credit, and one education savings account program.”
- Nearly 30,000 students will benefit from 10 school choice programs “specifically tailored to serve children with special needs.”
- Students with special needs or those from low or middle-income families account for “nearly all of the children participating in America’s school choice programs.”
- The allocated and donated funds for the 27 private school choice programs in the nation totaled $806 million in 2011 with an average scholarship of $3,794 per child.
“The data collected in our yearbook shows that 2011 truly is the year of school choice,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the Alliance for School Choice. “With seven new programs, 11 expanded programs, and nearly 20,000 more students participating than last year, we can see these programs changing the lives of children across America.”
"Empowering parents to provide the best possible education for their children is what school choice is all about," said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. "We were glad to see the leadership at the General Assembly allow much needed legislation to move forward in 2011. Now it is up to the leaders in this movement to focus on the important aspects of school choice that relate to the education of children, and avoid the temptation and the pressure to become more like traditional public schools."
SBOE Approves Charter Fast Track - September 2, 2011
2011 School Choice Victories - August 22, 2011
Charter School Council Formed - August 5, 2011
School Choice Expansion Breaks Record - July 6, 2011
Pro-Family Bills Become Law - July 1, 2011
Charter Bill Heads to Conference - April 15, 2011
Arizona School Choice Upheld - April 5, 2011
Charter School Checkmate - FNC - July 2010
Charter Schools Close Achievement Gap - October 5, 2009
Charter Schools Have Financial Benefits - November 7, 2008
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