Support real school choice

School-choiceNow that school is back in session, the question of school choice has once again been raised. On the surface, it seems like an obvious question: should parents be allowed to choose which school their children attends? On the surface, it seems like the answer is obvious: YES!

A recent study by Troy University seems to confirm this. Highlights from the School Choice works! Research shows that:

  • Increasing the number and types of K-12 schools, and empowering parents to decide which is best for their children will lead to better academic outcomes…
  • A one-size-fits-all approach fails to provide the necessary flexibility to encourage experimentation and to meet the diverse educational goals of parents and students.
  • Evidence from school choice programs across the nation shows that even small doses of school choice boost school system performance.

The minutia comes about when the details of how school choice is implemented. The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently upheld a tax credit scholarship program that helps provide scholarships to children of low-income parents. The Franklin Center reports, “In New Hampshire, Business Tax Credits offer businesses a partial tax credit (85%) for donations made to organizations which provide scholarships to low-income families (defined as income less than 300% of the federal poverty line). It is then up to these families to determine what is best for them: tuition-charging public schools in nearby districts, homeschool, or tuition at a private school, including those which have religious affiliations and instruction.”

In other states, the money comes directly from the state or local government in the form of vouchers. Along with the voucher comes strings. Meaning that once a private school, whether religious or not, receives the tax-payer money, the schools are then put further under the control of a government. Many people will look no deeper than these attached strings, and decide at that point whether or not to support school choice. Some will look only at the fact that tax-payer money is possibly being transferred to religious private schools, and decide to oppose school choice.

Few people look at the fact that government-run schooling is a wealth redistribution program. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates the current per student expenditure to be $12,281 for the 2014–15 school year. The source of this funding varies from state-to-state, though most states will use property, income and/or sales taxes to fund government-run schools. Government-run schools, as with all things government-run, require that (almost) everyone pay for a program that not (almost) everyone uses. The only sure-fire way to have real school choice, is to remove government from the equation. As long as people are being forced to pay for schools they don’t want to use, there is no real choice!

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