In the past few days, five states have created or expanded their education choice options.
Mississippi expanded the number of students eligible to attend public charter schools, increased access to education savings accounts for special-needs students, and renewed a voucher for dyslexia therapy.
Wisconsin expanded its Special Needs Scholarship Program, a move that will allow more students to have access to the program.
Maryland passed its first K–12 scholarship program and became the 25th state to allow some form of private school choice and the 30th state to allow education choice.
Washington State’s legislature devised a new funding mechanism for its charter schools after Gov. Jay Inslee refused to sign or veto the bill, allowing it to become law.
Courts in Montana blocked a state Department of Revenue rule preventing scholarship tax credits (STC) from being used for religious schools. STCs have been ruled constitutional in other states because no state funds are used to support religious institutions.
The following statements from education experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact New Media Specialist Donald Kendal at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.
“It’s not every day that five separate stories illustrate the all-too-slow progress toward a better education system. “Over the past week, a Montana court decided to restore scholarship tax credits, Washington State’s governor decided to allow charter schools, a new private scholarship program was established in Maryland, Gov. Scott Walker expanded special-needs vouchers in Wisconsin, and Mississippi’s state legislature dramatically expanded school choice. “This is great news that illustrates forward momentum for those who want to transform education from being a spending-centered kludge-ocracy to a child and choice-centered network of independent schools.”
“The bipartisan steps taken over the past week by legislatures and courts from such diverse states clearly show parents across the political, racial, and socio-economic spectrum want options instead of a one-size-fits-all education system. These are small but important steps toward allowing parents to fully direct their children’s education.
“Education choice is the answer to what ails the bloated education bureaucracy in this country. Creating more tests or more standards is not going to fix the nineteenth century education model currently in place. Placing the education purse strings into the hands of parents, which gives them the freedom to find the individualized educational options needed to meet their children’s needs, is what is required to improve the failing U.S. public education system. Fund children, not bureaucrats.”
“Thanks to recent reforms, school choice is now available to a relatively small number of families in half the states. This is a great thing for the few families who now have better opportunities for their kids and for the rest of us who can expect to see more better-educated fellow citizens. After the initial celebration, however, the truth is that there’s much more work to be done. Every single American child should be able to attend the school of his or her parents’ choice, regardless of family income. Lawmakers need to explore more options that enhance accountability using marketplace-focused reforms rather than continue to rely on the current bureaucrat-centered model. Onward and upward!”
Montana: “Tax credit scholarship (TCS) monies come entirely from private sources, allowing these programs to avoid state or federal prohibitions against sending money to religious institutions. Montana’s TCS program is no different, and the Department of Revenue is in the wrong. Hopefully, this injunction will become permanent.”
Maryland: “It only took 10 years – and the funding for the tax credit scholarship program is minimal – but Maryland finally has entered the ranks of school choice states. While it’s a small step forward, it’s still a step forward, and proponents and supporters of this legislation deserve our thanks.”
Washington: “If you can do the right thing by doing nothing, then that is what Gov. Inslee did by not signing or vetoing SB 6194, allowing it to become law. This is great news for the school choice families in Washington State who were left in limbo over the past year.”
Mississippi: “This is a huge day for school choice in Mississippi. Allowing children to cross district lines to attend a charter will make it easier for charter operators to open schools in rural areas like the Delta, where school districts are scarcely populated. This, along with passage of legislation that will expand education savings accounts, has the chance to exponentially grow the number of school choice families in the Magnolia State.”
“I am very proud to see one of the strongest charter school bills in the country become law after Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee refused to veto the bill in the past week. The bill not only saves Washington’s successful public charter schools, it also allows for continued growth and expansion of this innovative model.”
“This has been a great couple of weeks for the school choice movement. It has been a long time coming, especially for the great state of Maryland. For 10 years there has been a bipartisan push for private school choice in the state. If the state spending plan is approved by Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland will become the 24th state in the nation to offer statewide private school choice. This is a testament to all the school choice advocates across the country: Never give up!”
The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.