The Leaflet: Breaking News: School Choice Week Breaks Records

Published January 25, 2019

This week, thousands of students, parents, and teachers wearing yellow scarves—not vests—rallied for school choice in state capitols across the nation. Millions of additional Americans attended more than 40,000 events, such as school fairs and talent shows, in more than 70 cities to celebrate National School Choice Week (NSCW) – a new record in participants and events for the organization.

In 2011, NSCW was launched as a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort. Nine years later, NSCW has become the world’s largest celebration of education freedom.

This year, The Heartland Institute celebrated NSCW with several education freedom events. We were particularly proud to host former Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, when she shared her touching story about how educational opportunity helped her defy the odds as a child raised by immigrants in a poor community.

As a longtime advocate of education freedom, Heartland has written copious amounts of research material, published books and a monthly newspaper (School Reform News), hosted events, and met with scores of state legislators about the pressing need for school choice.  

The issues plaguing public schools are deep and have a dire impact on students. From falling achievement levels to massive teacher strikes to an epic of violence—America’s public schools are in a state of chaos. Fortunately, educators and legislators have gradually responded to these concerns by enacting reform measures such as education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, and vouchers.

Heartland has responded by creating its own unique reforms. In 2016, we introduced strike vouchers, which would allow public school students affected by a school strike to continue their education at any charter, private, or parochial school in their district. Other non-school institutions, such as Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs, could also participate.

Last year, we developed Child Safety Accounts (CSA), a type of education savings account for victims of bullying, harassment, and other forms of physical or emotional violence committed by students and school staff. The CSA would be pre-funded with state education funds that parents could use to transfer their children from unsafe learning environments. CSA funds could also be spent on tuition at any charter, public, parochial, private, and virtual school, as well as on homeschooling and other education-related expenses such as tutoring and educational therapies.

School choice is proven to benefit children by boosting their mental health, decreasing school segregation, improving civic values and practices, and increasing their academic outcomes. National School Choice Week is an important reminder all children, not just those who reside in wealthy ZIP codes, should have the freedom to attend the school that best fits their unique needs.


What We’re Working On

The Bias in State K-12 Education Rankings
In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Joe Barnett, managing editor of Budget & Tax News, is joined by Stan Liebowitz, co-director of the Colloquium for the Advancement of Free-Enterprise Education at the University of Texas at Dallas, to discuss his recent study on the bias in well-known rankings of state K–12 education systems. In the study, “Fixing the Bias in Current State K-12 Education Rankings,” published by the Cato Institute, Stan and his coauthor construct a new measure of the efficiency of K–12 systems that yields very different state rankings.

Energy & Environment
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the Growing Threat of Socialism
In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett is joined by Justin Haskins, executive editor at The Heartland Institute, who says the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), which has been embraced by many leaders in the Democratic Party, is dangerous and would move the country closer than ever to socialism. Haskins warns the Green New Deal would, among other things, abruptly end the use of fossil fuels, implement government-run health care, and institute a universal living wage.

Health Care
Health Care Illiteracy
In a new episode of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Health Care Policy Advisor Sarah Lee interviews Dave Chase of Health Rosetta about a new study that found many people don’t understand how health insurance works. Chase also explained during the podcast how this “health illiteracy” problem affects the cost of health care.

Budget & Tax
Targeted Tax Incentives Do Not Encourage Growth
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines targeted tax incentives and how they fail to encourage economic growth at a high cost to taxpayers. “Instead of choosing winners and losers and further complicating byzantine tax codes, lawmakers should focus on creating a sound and robust economic environment that attracts businesses. In other words, instead of offering taxpayer-subsidized goodies to attract businesses, lawmakers ought to roll back regulations and reduce tax rates, which would benefit all residents,” wrote Glans.

From Our Free-Market Friends
State of the State Highlights Show-Me Research
In his State of the State address, Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons highlighted government failures such as a lack of workforce development, decaying infrastructure, high incarceration rates, and out-of-control Medicaid growth. The Show-Me Institute is optimistic that Missouri state legislators will pass long-overdue bills during the 2019 legislative session to improve the state’s problems. This month, the institute released its 2019 Blueprint: Moving Missouri Forward, a policy brief presenting 16 reforms legislators can easily enact.


Click here to subscribe to The Leaflet, the weekly government relations e-newsletter.