What Is School Choice?

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School Choice

The concept of school choice refers to empowering parents to choose where their children attend school. The parents might choose to remain at a public school within their district. They might opt for private schools, charter schools, a different public school or one of the many forms of homeschooling.

Variations on the Choice Theme

School choice manifests in different approaches: Charter schools, vouchers, special-needs scholarships, individual and/or corporate tax credits, inter-district and intra-district options (offers parents the option of sending their children to a different public school, either within or outside the district in which they live).

Types of choice

  • Charter schools
  • Private schools
  • Public-school choice (Inter- or Intra-district choices)
  • Home schools
  • Special-needs Scholarships
  • Tax Credits
    • Individual
    • Corporate
  • Vouchers

Developments Across the Nation

  • Charter Schools
  • Public-school choice (Inter- or Intra-district choices)
  • Special-needs scholarships
    • A proposal to offer scholarships to special-needs children has been introduced in the Texas Legislature. Read about the debate here.
  • Tax Credits
    • Individual
    • Corporate
  • Vouchers

Research: Impact of school choice on Kentucky

  • Charter Schools
  • Public-school choice (Inter- or Intra-district choices)
    • In Calloway County and the Jackson Independent School District, parents’ freedom in their child’s education is being limited even more than what it already was. Parents in these districts used to have the choice of sending children to a school in the neighboring district (either in the city schools for county residents or vice versa), that choice has been taken away from parents by local school administrators opposed to educational liberty.

Now, some parents who want to send their children to a district in which they do not reside are now required to pay a tuition fee. This is because the state SEEK funding no longer follows these students. State law requires districts to sign an agreement with each other in order for the funding to follow students who transfer to a neighboring district. Without an agreement, the money actually stays in Frankfort for those parents who choose to still transfer their children and pay the tuition fee.

To read more about this elimination of liberty, click here.

  • Special-needs scholarships
    • Research done for the Bluegrass Institute by Pacific Research Institute’s Vicki E. Murray, Ph.D. -- one of the foremost authorities on special-needs scholarships in the country -- indicates that a special-needs scholarship program would help Kentucky’s kids, parents, communities and even schools. Murray's report, "Enable the Disabled" is here.
  • Tax Credits
    • Individual
    • Corporate
  • Vouchers

To read an overview of the issues surrounding the effects of competition on public education, direct your browser here.

Charter Schools in Kentucky

There are no true charter schools in Kentucky except for two special cases. The Model Laboratory School at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky was founded in 1906, at the same time EKU was established. It teaches over 700 students from K-12. A laboratory school takes an experimental approach to education. They are modeled after the first laboratory school created by John Dewey at the University of Chicago. Laboratory schools are also known as campus schools, model schools, laboratory schools, demonstration schools, university affiliated schools and child development schools. They also vary in grade configuration and educational approache. The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky [1] at Western Kentucky University accepts 60 new high school juniors each school year. The Academy was ranked among Newsweek's 2009 list of elite public high schools. [2] The state pays for tuition and houses the students in the scenic Florence Schneider Hall.

Support for school choice

Proponents of school choice believe that it will provide the parents or guardians of children with more control over their education. Parents are able to choose whether or not they want their child to have religious instruction as a part of their education. They can decide on a school that will cater to the abilities (or disabilities) of their child, be it in day-by-day skills, mathematics, reading, writing, science, or the foreign languages. Sometimes parents will send their children to a school that may be especially skilled in teaching its students some kind of trade. Supporters of school choice believe that having these choices available easily to American parents will create competition between schools and in the long run be better for all schools. They believe that if many families choose the same better school, the worse schools will either have to improve dramatically or they will be shut down. Another argument in favor of school choice is its cost effectiveness. [3] Pro-voucher Americans also point out that having a school choice can help advance minorities or American children on the lower end of the economic scale from poorly performing schools to schools that generally are run and attended by middle and upper-class Americans. [4]

Ky School Spending.JPG
Ten Reasons Why Kentucky Children Deserve School Choice

Criticism for school choice

Those against or skeptical of school choice and vouchers say that switching from public to private schooling does not really change the American education system for good. [5] They also say that some private/voucher-based schools might reject special needs students because they are "too expensive." The same believe that students who have no transportation to schools outside of their district would have a harder time getting to school if they don't have reliable transportation. In addition to this, if transportation were provided for them, this would add to or cause a financial drain. They also argue that vouchers could be used as extra money to send already wealthy or middle class families' students to private schools they can already afford. Critics also believe that less fortunate families would not be able to meet additional costs that the vouchers would not provide for.

References

  1. Gatton Academy Website
  2. Gatton Academy ranks among the elite American public schools
  3. School choice is cheaper?
  4. USA TODAY changes its stance to pro-vouchers for schools
  5. USA Today's 2008 anti-school voucher editorial

Links