The Leaflet: States Consider School Choice

Published April 2, 2015

States Consider School Choice

Throughout the nation, state legislators are debating the merits of school choice, and many legislative bodies are coming to realization that more competition in education could help improve the quality of the system for all students. Legislation for vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, and individual tax credits are being considered in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

Research conducted since the late 1990s has overwhelmingly shown that school choice is effective public policy for boosting student achievement and that states that take advantage of school choice reforms witness significant improvement.

In a Friedman Foundation study discussing the empirical evidence for school choice, Dr. Greg Foster says that school choice improves education for all students. “School choice improves academic outcomes by allowing students to find the schools that best match their needs, and by introducing healthy competition that keeps schools mission-focused,” Foster said. “It saves money by eliminating administrative bloat and rewarding good stewardship of resources. It breaks down the barriers of residential segregation, drawing students together from diverse communities.”

In his recent study, Ray Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, says an education model that embraces competition would change the way educators and administrators operate. “True choice and competition in education would shift that system’s incentives dramatically, with the education entrepreneurs and providers focused on supplying added value to the customers, that is, students and parents,” said Keating. “The resulting improvement in educational quality and attainment would raise productivity, personal earnings, and the overall economy.”

The Heartland Institute – which also publishes monthly education newspaper School Reform News – is happy to send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus, help organize an event in your state, or distribute further information. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Nathan Makla at [email protected] or call 312/377-4000.

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Tax Reform in Mississippi
The Mississippi Legislature is considering three major tax proposals to lower or even eliminate the state’s income tax while reforming business taxes such as the state’s franchise tax. Each proposal would keep tax dollars in the pockets of Mississippi businesses and individuals and would represent a substantial improvement to the state’s tax system. In thisResearch & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues lowering personal and corporate income taxes can dramatically improve a state’s economy and generate new jobs. Legislators should support efforts to eliminate these taxes. “Reeves’ proposal addressing franchise taxes would improve the state’s competitiveness by eliminating a double tax on business activity. Mississippi needs to reduce its overall tax burden, and each of these plans is a step in the right direction.” Read more

Energy & Environment
NEPA Guidance for CO2 Emissions is Bad Policy Based on Bad Science
Marlo Lewis, senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, drafted a powerful rebuke of the Council on Environmental Quality’s recent draft guidance to require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of potential climate change effects caused by increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions from federal projects and projects requiring federal permits. In this Climate Change Weekly article, Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett discusses environmental impacts of assessments for potential climate change. Burnett said, “[T]he NEPA review is an inappropriate framework for making climate policy. All the important evidence suggests project-related greenhouse gas emissions should not be a factor when determining whether agencies grant or deny permits for individual projects and, as a result, CEQ should withdraw the guidance.” Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Tennessee Certificate-of-Need Reform
Tennessee is one of 36 states that have certificate-of-need (CON) laws. CON laws are intended to slow the growth of health care prices, promote consolidation of health care providers, and limit the duplication of services. In a study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Thomas Stratmann and Christopher Koopman found states with CON programs offered fewer hospital beds and advanced health care services. States regulate on average 14 different medical services, devices, and procedures; Tennessee’s CON program regulates 20. In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans argues Tennessee lawmakers should consider reforming the state’s CON program again to end burdensome regulations that increase the cost of health care while limiting access and benefitting those with political connections. Read more

Unnecessary Collateral Damage From FCC Title II Internet Regulation
In this Heartlander article, Scott Cleland examines the collateral damage that is beginning to pile up from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) February decision to trigger Title II telephone utility regulation of the Internet. “In a nutshell, lots of Americans, innovation and business will become collateral damage in an unnecessary, avoidable, and self-serving FCC war on potential future net neutrality problems, which the FCC admits it can’t yet identify.” Read more

From Our Free Market Friends
The Costs of New EPA Rules to Virginia
new study released this week by the Thomas Jefferson Institute claims Environmental Protection Agency regulations will raise electric rates 25 percent in Virginia and cost the state 38,000 jobs. Michael W. Thompson, chairman and president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, wrote, “At a time when Virginia is clawing its way out of the recession, these costs will have a devastating impact on Virginians.”Read more



The March issue of School Reform News reports Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), a front-runner in the contest for the Republican nomination for president, made bold reforms
of elementary, secondary, and college education a prominent part of his proposed 2015–17 budget. “Gov. Walker has shown once again the status quo in education is not good enough for him or for our students,” said Nick Novak, communications director for the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute.