More than 150,000 children are participating in 16 school choice programs in nine states and the District of Columbia, according to the School Choice Yearbook 2007, released in April by the Alliance for School Choice, the nation’s largest organization promoting school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.
The 60-page book–the alliance’s annual flagship publication–provides information on public opinion polling, academic achievement research, and the impact of private school choice on public school performance. The book also provides data updates on every school choice program in the country.
“The evidence shows that private school choice is on the rise throughout the country–with every program in existence continuing to demonstrate solid year-to-year student enrollment growth,” said the book’s author and primary researcher, Geoffrey Goodman.
In fact, school choice program participation has grown by 86 percent in the past five years.
The book estimates Pennsylvania’s school choice program is the largest in terms of the number of participating students (38,046), while Florida allocates the most public money to school choice (in excess of $200 million across two programs). Data for the Yearbook are derived from state government statistics where available.
The book also includes feature sections on programs for students with special needs. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Utah offer programs specifically designed for students with disabilities. More than 21,000 children participate in those programs, with total government spending on them estimated at $166 million.
The Yearbook highlights the growing support for school choice among Democratic lawmakers. Four Democratic governors signed school choice legislation in 2007 and 2008, and three-quarters of school choice victories in the past two years were realized because of support from Democratic lawmakers, a sign that school choice is increasingly viewed as a bipartisan issue.
The alliance intends its Yearbook to serve as a key reference guide for lawmakers, the media, and parents, and to provide helpful data for supporters who wish to advance voucher and tax credit programs in their states.
Accordingly, the Yearbook includes data demonstrating the need for school choice, such as stagnant high school graduation rates, the declining standing of American children on international assessments, and low proficiency averages on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
“The status quo of our nation’s public education system is not working for far too many children, particularly those who are minority and low-income,” said alliance President Charles R. Hokanson. “These children should not have to wait for public schools to slowly improve. They need high-quality options now.”
Andrew Campanella ([email protected]) is director of communications and marketing at the Alliance for School Choice in Washington, DC.
For more information …
School Choice Yearbook 2007, by Geoffrey Goodman, Alliance for School Choice: www.AllianceForSchoolChoice.org