NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Heritage Issues Annual Report On School Choice

July 14, 2000

The school choice movement gained significant ground in 1999, especially in Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma and Oregon. In 2000, other initiatives appear promising in Michigan, California, New Mexico and Connecticut. Numerous other states have proposed and debated the issue of schools choice, raising the information level of the public in those states. Also, most impressive is the report from Children's Scholarship Fund, which found that 1.25 million low-income parents would take advantage of scholarships to attend better private or religious schools, if given a choice.

School choice includes private and public supported school choice programs, tax credits for educational expenses of school choice and charter schools.

  • The state of Florida adopted the first statewide voucher plan that allows a child in a failing school to attend a better public or private school of the parents' choice. Of the 134 scholarships given in 1999-2000, 78 were used for other public schools.
  • Illinois enacted an educational expenses tax credit for expenses between $250 and $500, available to both public and private school parents.
  • Both Oklahoma and Oregon adopted new charter school laws.
  • For the third year in a row, the president of the National Urban League urged that the nation's urban schools be turned into independent charter schools.

White students make up only 48% of the charter school enrollment, compared to 59% of the public school enrollment, indicating that minorities use this form of school choice more often than their white counterparts.

Studies have also found that many of the contentions of school choice opponents are not valid. Choice does not "cherry pick" the best and the brightest from the public schools. School choice provides better and more integration than the public system. The student populations in the public schools and in the choice programs were substantially similar in socioeconomic and racial composition. Finally, the public, including many prominent leaders from the civil rights movement, is highly supportive of school choice.

Source: Nina Shokraii Rees, "School Choice 2000: What's Happening in the States," The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002-4999.


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