Kitchen Table Economics

School Choice Explained

Abraham Lincoln said, “Upon the subject of education…I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.” Almost everyone would agree with that statement. Yet, many young Americans still don’t have access to a quality education—largely a result of government barriers. To give students more opportunity, school choice is vital.

What does school choice mean? In short, the ability to pick from a variety of education options—including traditional public, charter and private schools. Not every student thrives in the same classroom environment, so these options allow families to make the best decisions for their own children.

School choice hasn’t been implemented in all states yet. Currently, only 25 states, and the District of Columbia  have private school choice programs for low-income students. While some states have public charter school laws, they don’t have private school choice programs. But the success these states have seen should be an example for others. Education opportunities shouldn’t be based solely on the location of the family’s home. With school choice, the neighborhood is removed as a barrier.

In practice, what does expanding school choice look like? The state uses a portion of taxpayer dollars to fund public schools in your community. With school choice, the state splits those funds and redistributes them to certain families so they can use the money to provide their child with the best learning environment. Depending on the state, these funds are currently available through school vouchers, Education Savings Accounts, tax-credit scholarships, or special needs scholarships.

School choice is essential for the success of America’s youth. The public school system is failing our students; school choice provides them with the opportunity to obtain a better education.