Reforming Education With School Choice

Washington, D.C. - In the last 10 years a nationwide movement has emerged in favor of school choice. Surveys find the majority of parents would send their children to private schools if they could afford to do so, and an overwhelming majority of parents want significant change in the public education system - change that would include giving parents more control over their children's education.

"The answer is to end the public school monopoly and let competition emerge," according to National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Policy Chairman Pete du Pont. "If elementary and secondary schools had to compete for students, you can be sure they would be devising other innovative approaches not only to keep academic standards high but also to meet the special needs of both students and parents."

Ideas for creating that competition range from charter schools to tax credits for choice to school vouchers. In Washington D.C. some lawmakers and educators want to use a voucher program to bail out the District's failing schools.

House Majority Leader and D.C. Scholarships proponent Rep. Dick Armey believes "parents know what's best for their children and deserve the ability to remove children from bad schools and use opportunity scholarships to put them in schools that provide a quality education and a greater change for a bright and prosperous future."

NCPA Senior Fellow Linda Morrison was one of the experts taking part in a press conference and Congressional briefing on school choice sponsored by the NCPA and Children's Education Opportunity of America (CEO America). In her study, "The Tax Credits Program for School Choice," Morrison proposes that parents and other taxpayers, including businesses, would receive a tax credit for relieving the troubled and overcrowded government schools of the task of educating a child.

"This study outlines a tax neutral way to help many children get a good education and relieve overcrowded schools, while increasing per pupil spending," Morrison said. "There are many ways to reform the education system. Just picking one isn't the solution. Why not try a combination of charter schools, tax credits and vouchers?"

James Mansour, national chairman of CEO America, an organization that is using private donations to set up experimental voucher programs, agrees. Be it charter schools, tax credits for choice or school vouchers, "education reform should begin with opening up opportunities for all families to send their children to the very best schools possible," he said. "We at CEO America are opening doors for children trapped in low performing and unsafe schools to attend better schools. We challenge the nation to join us in our effort."