Reality Checks on School Choice

Florida and Arizona are the big school choice states.  Nationally, most (86%) of children attend traditional public schools.  In Florida, about 80% of school age children attend public schools.  Not surprising is the fact that both states are near the bottom in public school funding.  Somehow choice is marketed as a way to improve educational opportunity, but the reality is different.  Choice is cheaper but not better.  A summary of the National School Board report follows.  The full report can be accessed here.

This week is the National School Choice Week. But what does choice really mean? Where does choice exist? And most importantly, what does it do for student ​achievement?

As one of the most touted education reform strategies, let’s take an unbiased look at what choices are and what research says about their effectiveness. After all, what parents and communities want mostly are good schools. And “choice” is no guarantee for good schools. As the Center for Public Education pointed out in its report, school choices work for some students sometimes, are worse for some students sometimes, and are usually no better or worse than traditional public schools.

You might also be surprised to find out that parents overwhelmingly choose to send their children to the neighborhood public school, and that more students are enrolled in a choice school within the public school system than outside of it.

Some reality checks on choice

  • A relatively small percentage of school-aged children are enrolled in schools of choice: 16 percent in public schools of choice, 13 percent in non-public schools of choice.
  • Nearly 90 percent of children attend public schools, a percentage that has remained constant for 40 years.
  • Public schools offer choice programs including magnet and charter schools, inter- and intra-district transfer, etc.
  • The national on-time high school graduation rate in public schools is at all-time high.
  • About three-fourths of charter schools performed about the same as or worse than traditional public schools.
  • Private school vouchers and tuition tax credits (funded by tax dollars) have no conclusive evidence of effectiveness.

Check out the entire report School Choice: What the Research Says.

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Posted in Achievement, Charter Schools, Public Education.

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