When you are trying to find the best educational environment for your children, you begin to realize how important the issue of school choice is. And it doesn’t matter why you’re looking for alternatives to public school: large class sizes, bullying, lack of progress in your local school districts, or safety concerns. No matter what your reason for seeking more promising, innovative alternatives, it’s important to know where your state stands on school choice and your tax dollars.
What is school choice?
School choice is about your family’s right to choose the best educational environment for your children and to use your tax dollars for homeschooling, private school, or online tuition. When it comes to school choice, tax dollars go to the environment where you want your child to be educated.
A state-by-state decision
Currently, families have some form of school choice support in more than half of the United States. However, forming an opinion about school choice can be difficult because of one very important factor in our education system: public education funding is determined on a state-by-state basis. Someone in one state might be able to take the tax dollars their children represent and use them for private or online school, while families in another state don’t have that option.
As a result, school choice has many different interpretations for each individual state. However, if you want to know what your state’s school choice rules are, you can check out EdChoice Choosing a school in America dashboard. This page gives you the ability to see which states have some form of school choice; if your state has a school choice system, you can click on the interactive map to see exactly how you can use your child’s allocated tax dollars to place them in the educational environment that best suits them. Despite the complexity of the issue, there are some basic pieces of information that remain the same regardless of location.
Options for choosing a school
Across the country, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, there are 76 different school choice programs, all with their own unique requirements and benefits. Here’s some basic information about the most common types of school choice options you may encounter:
- • Education Savings Accounts – ESAs send public funds directly to families through a government-approved savings account to cover education expenses outside the public education system.
- • K-12 tax credits and deductions – Families initially foot the bill for their students’ education expenses and later get some of that money back in the form of tax credits or deductions.
- • school vouchers – Families choose whatever private school they want their child to attend, and their share of government funding goes to the school, paying some or all of the tuition.
Who is most influenced by school choice?
Homeschoolers and those who attend private schools, either in person or online, are most affected by the issue of school choice. Homeschooling families can use their chosen school’s funds to purchase curriculum, plan field trips, or purchase school supplies. Whether your student attends a private school in person or enjoys a private online school Excel High SchoolFlexible, self-paced programs, school choice funds may be available for tuition, laptops or even your internet connection.
Why is this important?
When school choice options exist, families have the freedom to choose from a variety of programs that allow their students the best personal opportunity for academic growth. As each state government and their citizens’ elected representatives determine the future of school choice in our country, it is important to research and understand this topic, especially if a public school is not providing the supportive and safe learning environment your child needs. A one-size-fits-all approach has never been the solution to raising children, nor is it the best approach to their education. Since families are the best voice about what is best for their children, school choice is an important topic to keep in mind.