NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Supplemental Services Grants Will Give Parents Choices

December 20, 2001

A little-known provision of the education bill passed by Congress called the "Supplemental Service" grant provision could actually pave the way for real school choice that includes private schools.

  • The supplemental services grants will give parents with children trapped in consistently failing schools the opportunity to secure grants to pay for after-school tutoring, summer school programs or other educational materials.
  • The amount of the grants to an eligible child will be from $500 to $1,000, and will continue until they complete the highest grade offered at the public school deemed to be failing.
  • Parents may take their grant money to a supplementary education service provider -- including private religious providers -- that meet certain state-established criteria.

But when it comes to school choice, states are leading the way.

During the 1999-2000 school year, more than 500,000 students participated in public school choice programs including charter schools, magnet schools and open enrollment policies. And more than 60,000 participated in school voucher programs.

In addition, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and most recently Pennsylvania allow taxpayers a tax deduction or tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships to students or for parents who spend personal funds on private school expenses.

The education bill's school choice provision falls short of President Bush's original proposal to allow children trapped in failing schools to receive the entire amount of their federal Title I -- money earmarked for disadvantaged children -- as a scholarship to another school or for educational aids. But it is a start.

Source: Matt Moore (NCPA policy analyst), "Bill provides token steps toward choice," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 14, 2001.


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