School Choice Gains Momentum in States (short)
School choice is increasingly popular among families, teachers, and legislators across the nation.
Twenty-nine governors officially recognized National School Choice Week (NSCW) this year, and state legislatures are brimming with voucher and charter school legislation.
For the first time, a teacher association endorsed the week, which brimmed with 3,600 grassroots events. So did an Olympic basketball athlete, CEOs of major companies, and the Jonas Brothers.
Educators nationwide also celebrated Digital Learning Day on February 6.
“After teaching in a traditional state school for many years, being able to have this opportunity to teach online made me realize that the typical approach we have for education does not fit all students, so to have that choice is essential,” said Amy Rosno, who has been an English teacher for 17 years and has taught in a Wisconsin online school now for eight.
Support from Teachers
Rosno belongs to the Association of American Educators, the nation’s largest nonunion teacher association. AAE’s members have diverse education backgrounds and largely support school choice. In an annual survey released in February, seven in ten AAE teachers said they support or tend to support Washington DC’s voucher program, Indiana’s tax deductions for private school expenses, and Arizona’s education savings accounts, a voucher-like program for special needs and low-income children.
Although online learning is not right for every child, Rosno said, it “really helps our students to succeed” when they have a particular need like her several students with severe medical challenges, another temporarily living in Guam, and students with learning difficulties who can concentrate on a computer but not when surrounded by classmates.
Lawmakers Get Moving
Legislators in dozens of states have introduced legislation to give more people like Rosno and her students a flurry of education options. New or expansions to voucher programs are currently alive in big states such as Texas, Alaska, Montana, and Pennsylvania, and smaller ones including Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, and Nevada.
And it’s not just red states, as lawmakers in Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, and New Jersey are also debating voucher proposals.
Most of these states are also considering legislation to introduce or expand charter and online schools. Others focusing on these options include Hawaii, Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Nebraska.
That’s means about half the states are considering school choice legislation.
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