Uncommon Sense

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What is School Choice?

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

School choice gives parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families’ needs.

School choice lets parents use the public funds set aside for their children’s education to choose the schools—public or private, near or far, religious or secular—that work best for them.

Types of School Choice

School choice is provided a variety of ways. Vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, and individual tax credits/deductions are the programs currently in operation in various states. To learn more about each program, where they exist, who uses them, and the historical data on participation, see the Friedman Foundation’s comprehensive guide to every private school choice program in America, “The ABCs of School Choice.”


Vouchers give parents the freedom to choose a private school for their children, using all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education. Under such a program, funds typically expended by a school district would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child’s private school, including both religious and non-religious options.

Education Savings Accounts

Education savings accounts allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, and other higher education expenses.

Tax-Credit Scholarships

Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Eligible taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses. In some states, scholarship-giving nonprofits also provide innovation grants to public schools and/or transportation assistance to students choosing alternative public schools.

Individual Tax Credits/Deductions

Through individual tax credits and deductions, parents can receive state income tax relief for approved educational expenses, which can include private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors, and transportation.

Schooling Options

Private Schools

Private schools are educational institutions run independently of the government. A private school’s focus can be religious-based, academic-intensive, and/or specialized for specific groups of students. Private schools typically charge tuition, but not always. There are more than six million students attending nearly 34,000 private schools in the United States.

Recommended source for additional information:
Council for American Private Education, capenet.org

Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools exempt from many state and local rules and regulations in exchange for increased financial and academic accountability. Charter schools are typically required to adhere to state-based standards and administer the state assessment. Today, 42 states and Washington, D.C., have charter school laws. There are 2.3 million students attending 6,000 charter schools in the United States.

Recommended sources for additional information:
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, publiccharters.org
The Center for Education Reform (CER), edreform.com


Homeschooling is an alternative form of education for children outside of public or private schools, typically within their own homes. Homeschooling is regulated differently from state to state. In some states, parents are able to create their own curricula, whereas other states require standardized tests, curriculum approval, and regular professional evaluation of students. As of 2007, 1.5 million students were homeschooled.

Recommended source for additional information:
Home School Legal Defense Association, hslda.org

Online Learning

Online learning allows students to work with their curriculum and teachers over the internet—in combination with, or in place of, traditional classroom learning. In 2009-10, there were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in school districts, almost all of which were online courses. That estimate does not include the 250,000 students enrolled in full-time online schools in 2010-11.

Recommended sources for additional information:
International Association for K–12 Online Learning, inacol.org

original article: What is School Choice?

children, conservative, diversity, education, freedom, public policy, reform, right wing


Filed under: children, conservative, diversity, education, freedom, public policy, reform, right wing

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