Conservative Solution for Expanding Education Opportunity
June 26, 2015
In the 2013-2014 school year, more than 2.7 million students were enrolled in more than 6,400 charter schools across the country. More than 308,000 students used a voucher or tuition tax-credit scholarship to finance their private school education.
Federal policy is several steps removed from where instruction actually occurs and can only support states in creating the conditions to transform education.
Policy should reflect three principles:
- Support Comprehensive Models of Learning. Nowhere is this more needed than in education, where the Institute for Education Sciences invests only $300 million annually in research — less than 1 percent of the National Institutes of Health's $30 billion research budget. This work should also extend to funding the rigorous but expensive evaluations that many startups and nonprofits simply cannot afford.
- Creating Room for Innovation. Leveraging the power of technology in education requires removing regulatory barriers. All digital learning providers should have an equal opportunity to participate in grant and policy programs, regardless of whether they are nonprofit, for profit, or the emerging B corps.
- Leveraging New Funding Model. Federal funds need to be able to accommodate the broader education landscape enabled by the broadening choice movement in education. In 2015, 20 states had school choice programs, 42 had charter school laws and 26 had statewide virtual schools. This reform, often referred to as Course Access, is attractive because it offers a more granular form of choice while also offering an equity element.
Policymakers have the chance to tap into the dynamism of innovators and the rich diversity of educational options emerging over the Internet, offered by a growing number of public and private entrepreneurs.
Source: John Bailey, An Education Agenda for 2016: Conservative Solutions for Expanding Opportunity, American Enterprise Institute, June 2015
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