What is Education Choice?
History of Education Choice
The idea of education choice has actually been around for nearly 150 years. Put simply, education choice is the ability for a child to be educated in the way that best suits their individual needs. That could be in the district zone school, a charter school, private school, homeschool or a hybrid. The most well known person to promote the idea was Milton Friedman. Friedman was an economist and statistician. He believed that when we apply economic principals to education we could create a better, market driven education system.
Education choice has flourished across the nation in the last decade. There are more than 76 choice programs in 32 states. These programs take a variety of forms. In our current education system money follows schools. When we look at the most effective education choice programs money follows students, not schools, to whatever form of education best suits them. These programs have a variety of names, due to the nuances of the programs, but common names are tuition-tax credits, vouchers, education savings accounts and scholarships.
Does education choice drain money from public schools?
Many education choice programs actually save public schools millions of dollars. When students choose a different education choice than their district boundary school that child is no longer in the education, and nearly always the choice program costs less money than the district school was getting to educate that child.
How does education choice affect school accountability and test scores?
Education choice programs actually create greater accountability for all schools. When a store, company or restaurant are not meeting the needs of the customers they serve – they change, innovate or close down. When students can move from and education option that is not working for them easily you create a new market dynamic where schools have to change, innovate or close down. Studies show that generally test scores improve, especially over time, when education choice programs are implemented.
Does Education Choice create greater inequality?
Our current education system is entirely based on where you live. This naturally creates an inequality in schools as only those who can afford to live in the nicer neighborhood can afford the better school. Education choice programs actually create greater diversity and equality in education. When we fund students, rather than schools, children receive the education that best suits them. Charter and private schools are typically more diverse than their public school counterparts.