Nearly 32 states considered a school choice program of some kind in 1997, and at least 45 governors stated their support for different degrees of school choice or charter schools, according to a new report from The Heritage Foundation. The idea of parental choice in education also gained ground among educators and parents–especially low-income parents in the inner cities.
According to Nina H. Shokraii and Sarah E. Youssef, authors of the 1998 edition of School Choice Programs: What’s Happening in the States, there is a mounting body of research evidence documenting the poor performance of public schools on every measure from test scores and safety to teaching supplies and accountability. Parents are looking for promising alternatives.
The 165-page Heritage Foundation handbook presents a state-by-state overview of public education statistics, such as graduation rates and per-pupil expenditures, together with details of recent education reform efforts and the position of each governor on school choice and charter schools. A list of national, state, and local contacts also is provided.
The importance of a governor’s position on school choice is illustrated in Illinois, where the year’s “biggest disappointment” occurred, according to the authors. Siding with teacher unions and other education establishment groups, Governor Jim Edgar vetoed a bill that provided for a $500 tuition tax credit for K-12 education expenses.
School Choice Programs: What’s Happening in the States is available at The Heritage Foundation’s Web site, http://www.heritage.org. Or call The Heritage Foundation at 1-800/544-4843 to have a copy sent to you; the cost is $10.00 plus $2.25 shipping and handling.