States to Watch in 2014

States to Watch in 2014
January 9, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

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.

SOURCE: Heartland Daily Podcast,


School Choice Roundup

  • 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.

Common Core Watch

  • 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.

Education Today

  • 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.

Thank you for reading! If you need a quicker fix of news about school choice, you can find daily updates online under the Ed News Roundup at

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Joy writes this e-newsletter, is managing editor of School Reform News, AND is available for speaking engagements on Common Core and other education topics. For more information, contact Heartland Events Manager Nikki Comerford at 312/377-4000, email">

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)