Heartland's School Reform Issue Suite
The Heartland Institute's school choice issue suite offers reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of vouchers, plus talking points and research on school choice, model legislation, Heartland Policy Studies, a new and really valuable "10 Principles" booklet, and four complete books in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format.
The Gates Are About to Open
Heartland Policy Studies and Perspectives
Model School Choice Legislation and Court Decisions
Talking Points on School Choice
Principles for Reform
Ten Principles of School Choice
Four Entire Books Online!
School Reform News
What Teacher Unions Say
Where to Go for Help
Why Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support Vouchers
"A Supreme Court decision in favor of vouchers would dramatically change the education landscape. ... A pro- voucher decision will undoubtedly open the voucher flood gates. With the court and the administration in sync, the road to education reform looks like deja vu welfare reform all over again."
Working for Change
August 10, 2001
On Thursday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a tax-funded voucher program allowing children in Cleveland, Ohio to attend private--even religious--schools. The decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris was hailed as one of the most important decisions in the history of U.S. public education. Many other communities and states are now expected to follow Cleveland's lead. School vouchers are about to spread across the country!
Click here for Heartland reactions to the Court's decision.
Click here for the full text of the Court's decision, in PDF format.
Read Tamara Henry's USA Today article about this exciting development.
Get up to speed with FindLaw's collection of decisions, resources, and briefs filed in the suit.
Read a one-page summary of the eight school choice programs already in place in such states as Arizona, Florida, Maine, and Vermont.
Read George Clowes' December 1998 interview with Milton Friedman, "The Only Solution is Competition."
Heartland Policy Studies are original research produced for The Heartland Institute, edited by its staff, and reviewed by its 100-member Board of Policy Advisors.
Heartland Perspectives are opinion-editorials distributed to, and regularly published by, hundreds of newspapers across the country. Permission to reprint is freely granted, provided the author and Heartland and properly cited as the source.
Opinion polls indicate that significant majorities of the American public support allowing parents to choose the schools their children attend without financial penalty. With the U.S. Supreme Court's favorable decision on the Cleveland school voucher program in June 2002, now is a good time to review what an ideal voucher program would look like, and what state and federal courts have had to say about choice.
The Heartland Plan for Illinois(executive summary - HTML)
The Heartland Plan for Illinois(policy study - PDF) (29 pages - 78kb)
The Heartland Plan for Illinois (1997-1998) (model legislation (PDF)) (68 pages - 3.75mb)
Click here to access Heartland's regularly updated collection of model parental choice legislation.
Click here for easy access to major state and federal court decisions on school choice, school funding, and related issues.
What is school choice? Why do we favor it? What are some of the strongest arguments and facts that favor school choice?
- School choice works: Students learn more and are more likely to graduate if their parents choose the schools they attend.
- School choice strengthens families and communities.
- Choice is widely available ... unless you're poor.
- Parents and taxpayers should decide what mix of private and government schools is best in their communities.
- The public supports school choice. Support is highest among minorities and low-income families who currently are denied choice.
For research and commentary in support of these points, see:
Position papers from BAEO (Black Alliance for Educational Options, 2002)
The ABCs of School Choice (Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation, 2002)
The Case for Educational Choice (The Heartland Institute, 1991)
Questions and Answers about Educational Choice (The Heartland Institute, 1991)
How should school choice be implemented? Who should be eligible to participate, and what rules and regulations are needed? Is school choice constitutional?
- Tax dollars for education should follow students to the schools their parents choose, whether private or public.
- Principals and teachers should be rewarded when their schools excel.
- Parents should be given enough funding to be able to choose among high-quality secular as well as religious schools.
- Entrepreneurs and businesses should be free to start or manage schools.
- Schools should not receive public funding if they teach the hatred or inferiority of any person or group.
- Parents who choose inexpensive schools should be allowed to deposit the savings into Education Savings Accounts, to be used to pay for other educational expenses or college tuition.
- Schools should be regulated only to the extent needed to ensure the safety of students.
For research and commentary in support of these points, see:
School Choice: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (Institute for Justice, 2001)
Cleveland Parents Don't Choose Voucher Schools, Say Opponents (School Reform News, May 2002)
Design Guidelines for Vouchers (The Heartland Institute, 2002)
A Model School Voucher Plan (Heartland Policy Study #98, 2002)
This small booklet, the first in a series from The Heartland Institute, provides policymakers and civic and business leaders a highly condensed yet easy-to-read guide to the debate. It presents the 10 most important principles of the school choice movement, explaining each principle in plain yet precise language.
This booklet also contains an extensive bibliography for further research, including many links to documents available on the Web, and a directory of the Web sites of national organizations that support school choice.
Click here to download the 32-page booklet in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format.
Let's Put Parents Back in Charge! - New Bilingual Edition!
Let's Put Parents Back in Charge!--a 96-page paperback book by Heartland President Joseph L. Bast and Board Chairman Herbert J. Walberg--was released in July 2003. The bilingual English-Spanish edition was published in Fall 2005.
Let's Put Parents Back in Charge! shows how badly real education reform is needed by documenting the academic, social, and political failures of the country's current education system. It explains how educational choice would improve schools by replacing the broken institutions that cause the current government school system to fail.
The book also explains what capitalism is and refutes the left's litany of false charges and myths about it, thereby showing how capitalism and education are entirely compatible.
Finally, the book describes how vouchers would put parents back in charge of their children's education, describing how voucher programs can be designed and presenting brief answers to the questions most commonly asked about voucher programs.
The entire book is available online in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format:
Education and Capitalism: How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America's Schools
The Hoover Institution Press published in November Education and Capitalism: How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America’s Schools, by Heartland President Joseph L. Bast and Herbert J. Walberg, chairman of Heartland’s Board of Directors.
Nobel laureate Milton Friedman called the book “a thoughtful, thorough examination of the virtues of capitalism and free markets as a way to organize elementary and secondary education in a democracy.” Educator Bruno V. Manno, now with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, deemed it “a first rate book on improving America’s schools that challenges the popular fallacies, misunderstandings, and romantic notions that many have about capitalism and economics and that makes the case for market-based school reforms.”
The entire book is available online, chapter-by-chapter, in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format, at http://www.hoover.org/publications/books/8328.
Alternatively, click here to order the book from The Heartland Institute's online store.
Rebuilding America's Schools
In 1991, The Heartland Institute published a comprehensive planning manual for vouchers titled Rebuilding America’s Schools. It includes a collection of 14 proposed school voucher bills, along with brief commentaries on their key features. The entire manual is available here in Adobe's PDF format.
The Case for Educational Choice (58pp.)
We Can Rescue our Children
We Can Rescue Our Children is a handbook for people everywhere who care about public education. In a careful and scholarly manner, it gives you the shocking details on our public school crisis. It explains the causes of the crisis. And most importantly, it presents a two-step cure, a blueprint for public school restructuring that gives all parents and community members, whether well off or poor, real voice and choice in the education that their children receive.
Full Text (PDF format - 109 pages, 13.1 mb)
Table of Contents
Preface - Acknowledgements - Introduction (9 pages)
Part 1: Are the Chicago Public Schools "the Worst in the Nation?"
1 Inside the Chicago Public Schools (11 pages)
2 A Nation at Risk (9 pages)
3 The Battle over Curriculum (11 pages)
Part 2: Why the Chicago Public Schools Do Not Work
4 How the Chicago Public Schools Became Centralized (11 pages)
5 How the Chicago Public Schools Declined (10 pages)
6 Poverty, Ethnicity, and Other Barriers to Excellence (11 pages)
7 Why Some Schools Work (14 pages)
Part 3: The Cure
8 Voice and Choice: Real Reform (13 pages)
9 Voice and Choice: Ten Questions and Answers (10 pages)
10 Education Rebates: One Step Further (10 pages)
11 Education Rebates: Ten Questions and Answers (14 pages)
12 Other Proposed Reforms (9 pages)
13 What You Can Do (6 pages)
Financial Impact of Education Rebates and About the Sponsors (9 pages)
Since 1997, School Reform News has served as the national outreach publication for the school choice movement. Many issues feature an exclusive interview with a key player in the national movement for education reform and updates on choice efforts in states across the country.
Each 20-page issue covers the full range of market-based school reform options, including vouchers, tax credits, contracting out, and charter schools. According to John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, "School Reform News is an invaluable, one-stop-reading guide to all the developments bubbling up from the states in education."
To search Heartland's hand-picked collection of documents on education issues, click here and select from the topics at right. Or click here to search the full PolicyBot database, the largest online collection of research on school choice and other market-based approaches to school reform. PolicyBot, a free service of The Heartland Institute, includes more than 25,000 documents from all of the country's leading think tanks and advocacy groups.
Many teachers support school choice because parents who are allowed to choose their children's schools are more likely to be actively involved in their children's learning. Choice also allows teachers to become true professionals. Teacher union leaders, however, oppose school choice because competition and choice make it more difficult for them to organize school workers and to exert political influence. Nearly all organized opposition to school choice comes directly from teacher unions or is funded by them.
For research and commentary in support of these points, see:
"Teachers Unions: Roadblocks to Reform," by Charlene Haar
"How to Get Better Teachers, and Treat Them Right," by Chester E. Finn Jr.
"Enemies of Vouchers," by Richard Tradewell
To read what the National Education Association says about educational choice, see:
"School Vouchers: The Emerging Track Record," NEA, January 2002
Read attorney Clint Bolick's brief warning about school choice misinformation.
The campaign for school choice is a nationwide grassroots movement. Some of the leading advocacy organizations in the movement are:
The following think tanks provide research and commentary on school choice:
The campaign for school choice is a nationwide grassroots movement involving scores of organizations and thousands of dedicated volunteers and activists. This directory provides names and contact information for leading advocacy groups for school choice.
As the national movement for school choice has grown in size and political influence, it has experienced some internal disagreements over tactics and strategies. This is hardly surprising, and a sign of the movement’s maturity, but opponents of school choice often seek to exploit this internal dissent. The following articles address specifically the concerns of some conservatives and libertarians who think vouchers “don’t go far enough” or will lead to new regulations on private schools, and who sometimes think tax credits might be a superior alternative.
Joseph Bast, “The Promise and Limits of Tuition Tax Credits,” Heartland Perspective, April 2001, http://www.heartland.org/article/17227
Joseph Bast, “2002: The Year of School Vouchers,” The Heartlander, February 2002, http://www.heartland.org/article/10708
Joseph Bast, “Tax Credits vs. Vouchers: Time to Decide,” The Heartlander, March 2002, http://www.heartland.org/article/10705
Joseph Bast, “Why Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support School Vouchers,” The Independent Review, October 2002, http://www.heartland.org/article/10644
Joseph Bast, “Three Objections to School Vouchers ... Answered,” The Heartlander, August 2004, http://www.heartland.org/article/15487
George Clowes, “Reformers Can’t Decide Between Tax Credits & Vouchers,” ALEC Policy Forum, American Legislative Exchange Council, January 2003, http://www.heartland.org/article/11663
George Clowes, “Still No Consensus on School Choice,” April 2004, http://www.heartland.org/article/16914
George Clowes, “Are Tax Credits Really Not Public Money?” School Reform News, July 2005, http://www.heartland.org/article/17372
David Kirkpatrick, “Does Government Funding = Government Control?” School Reform News, April 2004, http://www.heartland.org/article/14664