School Choice, Charter Schools, and Trends In Educational Privatization
This section of Reason Foundation's Annual Privatization Report 2011 provides a comprehensive overview of the latest on school choice, charter schools, voucher and tax credit programs, and other news from the education sector. Topics include:
- In 2011 15 states offered a total of 26 school voucher and tax credit programs with close to $1 billion in school funding following students to schools. More than 2 million students are enrolled in charter schools, with more than 100 cities with 10 percent or more charter school market share.
- According to the American Federation for Children, 42 states introduced legislation in 2011 to create or expand school voucher and scholarship tax credit programs. Fifty-four bills create or expand voucher programs and 42 bills create or expand tax credit scholarship programs. Many bills often target disadvantaged children, including 27 bills for special needs children, two bills for military children, and two bills for children in foster care.
- At the state level, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Indiana have all recently changed their statewide school funding systems to a weighted student formula where the money follows the child. Meanwhile California, Utah and Connecticut have ongoing legislative debates about similar weighted student formula school finance reforms.
- In April 2011, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law Arizona Empowerment Accounts, the first parent-controlled education savings account. Empowerment Accounts allow parents—in this case, parents of special needs children—to remove their children from the public-school system and receive the money the state would have spent on them in an education savings account.
- At the local level, More than 30 “school funding portability” funding systems (in cities like New York, Baltimore, Denver, Hartford and Cincinnati, and states including Rhode Island, Hawaii and Indiana) are funding students through student-based budgeting mechanisms.
- In 2011, Rochester, Newark and Boston moved to full weighted student formula systems where the money follows the child. Los Angeles Unified is moving from 100 pilot schools being funded on a per-pupil basis to all 800 schools funded based on where the student enrolls for the 2012–2013 school year.
- In Louisiana, seven school districts are piloting a student-based budgeting system, including the largest school district in the state, Jefferson Parish, with 50,000 students. Meanwhile 80 percent of students in New Orleans are enrolled in charter schools with money following the student to his or her parents’ school of choice.
- In Colorado, the Douglas County School Board (a school system near Denver) took an unprecedented vote to create the first district-authorized voucher program. Eligible students can receive vouchers worth the lesser of private school tuition or 75 percent of their per-pupil public revenue ($4,575 for 2011–12).