A new clearinghouse is offering legislators, activists, and parents online information about ongoing school choice policy debates raging throughout the country.
Launched in April, Choices in Education is The Heritage Foundation’s new Web site dedicated to providing the latest school choice news, in-depth research, up-to-date charts and graphs, links to external resources, and a relevant history of the topic in all 50 states.
Geared Toward Grassroots
The new site is geared toward people involved in creating school choice policy and at the grassroots, said Krista Kafer, the senior education policy analyst who developed and maintains the site. Kafer is also a frequent contributor to School Reform News.
“There are a number of great Web sites out there that track school choice legislation,” Kafer noted. “Where this one is different is that it tracks all of the different kinds of school choice bills and lawsuits” without focusing on any one aspect, such as vouchers, homeschooling, or charter schools. Instead, she said, “it looks at all of these different issues; and then it directs people where to go if they want more information.”
On the site’s main page, there’s a “What’s Hot” section for the latest school choice news and a “Feature” section that puts the spotlight on a recently released special report. A menu bar includes:
- In the States, providing school choice details on all 50 states with a clickable U.S. map that contains a detailed key showing national hot spots;
- Types of Choice, defining the many different types of school choice, such as dual enrollment, magnet schools, vouchers, scholarships, tuitioning, contracting, etc.;
- Charts and Graphs, providing fodder for visual learners by putting information in charts and graphs;
- Research, listing abstracts of school choice studies and links to the full versions;
- In the Courts, logging state and federal school choice case rulings and tracking the current ones;
- Contacts and Links, providing Web links to and contact information for school choice organizations;
- Book Reviews, offering reviews of education-related books; and
- History, visually detailing 135 years of school choice history.
“One of the site’s best features that you’re just not going to find anywhere else is that it gives the history of school choice in each state,” Kafer said, noting she has written a “snapshot” of what’s been happening over the past 15 years in each one.
“As Comprehensive as Possible”
While Kafer is responsible for the site’s content, the coding and graphical design are done by The Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher and Sami Van Bliet. Kafer explained they’ve tried to make the site “as comprehensive as possible,” adding, “Obviously, it can’t have absolutely everything, but it really does have a lot of great things on it.
“I think it will just be a good asset to the movement,” she concluded.
Greg McConnell ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Palatine, Illinois.
For more information …
Visit the Choices in Education Web site at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/SchoolChoice/schoolchoice.cfm.