Overview of public school choice programs

By LIV FINNE  | 
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Jan 23, 2018

Overview of public school choice programs

Policy Brief by Liv Finne

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Key Findings

  1. School choice programs let parents, rather than government officials, decide which learning options are best for their children.
     
  2. School choice is much more common today than in the past; in many states they are a routine part of the public education system.
     
  3. All states and the District of Columbia offer families some form of school choice.  
     
  4. About one-fifth of students in the United States benefit from school choice.
     
  5. In Washington state, officials ban many popular forms of school choice, compared to other states.
     
  6. The primary obstacles to education reform are public-sector unions that profit from a closed, monopoly-type system.
     
  7. School choice is not a threat to families that are happy with their local public school.
     
  8. However, for families trapped in failing public schools, educational choice offers a way out.

Introduction

This paper provides an overview of how elementary, middle and high school students benefit from school choice in the United States and in Washington state.  

School choice programs are much more common today than in the past, and in many states these programs are seen as a routine part of the public education system.  A school choice program is one in which parents and families, rather than government officials, decide which educational options are best for their children.

Allowing parents to choose a school that meets their child’s educational needs is a powerful and popular idea, and state officials have created a robust variety of school choice programs across the country.  Many families find choice to be a better way to access publically-funded education than being arbitrarily assigned to a school based on zip code.

Download file Download the full Policy Brief.