States to Watch in 2014
School Choice Weekly, Issue #20
After another year of steadily increasing school choice nationwide, where will school choice fever hit next? Look for action in Oklahoma and Tennessee, says the Friedman Foundation’s Leslie Hiner. Oklahoma lawmakers are discussing Arizona-style education savings accounts (ESAs) and Tennessee lawmakers will have to decide between statewide vouchers and those limited to urban areas.
(ESAs deposit a child’s state education dollars into an account parents control and can use for many education resources, as opposed to a voucher, which may be used only at one school.)
As always, there’s no telling what will happen until 2014 is over. The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2011 “the year of school choice” because 13 states enacted school choice laws, and another 28 considered doing so. That was just the beginning. From 2011 to 2013, 26 states passed 47 school choice laws, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. In 2013, 11 states passed new or expanded existing private school choice programs.
While the number of legislative victories in recent years rapidly outpaced all the gains between 2011 and 1992, when the nation’s first voucher program began in Milwaukee, the number of students these programs reach is still comparatively minuscule. According to Friedman Foundation estimates, 1.1 million children attend private schools using vouchers, education tax credits, or education savings accounts. That sounds like a lot--and it’s a large expansion--but it’s just 2 percent of the nation’s 55.5 million preK–12 students.
So while school choice has come a long way, it’s got even farther to go. Time will tell how far it manages to travel this year.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- INDIANA: As the state considers a preschool voucher for lower-income families, how many are likely to sign up? Experts estimate about half of those eligible, or some 20,000 children. That’s twice as many kids as currently participate in the state’s K–12 voucher program.
- ALABAMA: Private individuals spend their own time and money to keep Florida’s tax-credit scholarships running, says the nonprofit organization’s president, Doug Tuthill. He responds to a charge from an Alabama writer that school choice enriches proponents at the expense of kids.
- CALIFORNIA: Parents who allegedly vandalized the nation’s first Parent Trigger school have been charged. The two mothers could face up to three years in jail if found guilty of causing approximately $8,000 in damages to the school they opposed.
- MILWAUKEE: A charter school refuses to talk down to kids just because of their race. Bruce Guadalupe Community School is so popular kids have to apply by age four to get in.
- PARENT RIGHTS: Common Core exists only because we have forgotten that parents have a right to educate their children, says Anthony Esolen. The state has no educational authority of its own apart from what parents delegate to it.
- NORTH CAROLINA: This summer, the legislature must decide whether to use national Common Core tests or stay with state-controlled tests. Until the legislature acts in May or later, the state board of education cannot, thanks to a 2013 law.
- ALABAMA: The state’s Senate President is the point man on repealing Common Core through the legislature. It’s unclear whether he genuinely supports the standards or is playing politics by refusing to let a repeal bill be heard while writing the governor to ask him to support one.
- DC: On January 9, Hillsdale College Professor Terrence Moore will lecture on his new book dissecting Common Core.
- NEW YORK CITY: New schools chancellor Carmen Fariña will likely do nothing to reduce income and education inequality, opines The Wall Street Journal.
- DELAWARE: Once federal Race to the Top grants are spent, what happens to the programs they created? a local newspaper wonders. Other federal grants have forced higher spending to sustain programs that continue after the federal funds are gone.
- TESTING: Schools can improve students’ standardized test scores, but not their underlying cognitive ability, a new study finds.
- ALASKA: Hundreds of GED-seekers rushed to take the high-school equivalency test before the new year brought a new version of the test, invalidating their previous work and charging them typically twice as much.
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