The Leaflet: The Nation Celebrates School Choice!

Published January 27, 2017

The final week of January 2017 marks the largest celebration of school choice in U.S. history. National School Choice Week is an annual celebration of the variety of academic options available to families across the country. Empirical evidence shows that choice improves academic outcomes for participants, saves taxpayer money, and provides integrated classrooms.

Kari Travis, the associate editor at Carolina Journal, argues in a recent article that there is much public support for school choice stating, “Statistics gathered by the National School Choice Week organization show that 70 percent of all Americans support some type of school choice. That support is higher still among Hispanic and millennial voters, with 76 percent and 75 percent approval rates, respectively.”

Travis continues to argue that these new methods of education are serving students in the United States stating, “an analysis paper from EdChoice — a free-market research foundation — found that 31 out of 33 education studies show improvement in traditional public schools where school choice is introduced into the system.”

Andrew D. Catt, the director of state research and policy analysis for EdChoice, recently examined what proportion of all K–12 students are enrolled in school choice programs like an education savings account (ESA), voucher or tax-credit scholarship program around the nation in his EdChoice School Program Rankings. In the new EdChoice school choice program rankings, Arizona, Florida, and Vermont score above 4% edchoice share. “Edchoice share” percentage provides insight into the role private school choice programs play in bridging the stark gap between families’ schooling preferences and today’s actual enrollments.

The Heartland Institure recently produced a small booklet titled 10 Principles of School Choice for policymakers and civic and business leaders presenting the 10 most important principles of the school choice movement, explaining each principle in plain yet precise language. The booklet is a highly condensed yet easy-to-read guide for the school choice debate. The booklet also contains an extensive bibliography for further research, including many links to documents available on the Web, and a directory of the Web sites of national organizations that support school choice.

What We’re Working On

Budget & Tax
Roadmap for the 21st Century: Social Security and Medicare
The Roadmap for the 21st Century Project is a collaboration of free-market experts nationwide reflecting their views on the major public policy choices facing the nation, particularly those affecting economic growth and prosperity. In this Roadmap paper, authors Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy, and Lewis K. “Lew” Uhler, founder and president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, describe how personal savings and investment accounts could entirely eliminate the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and eventually Medicare. The authors document the funding crisis facing Social Security stating “The latest Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that Social Security will run short of funds to pay promised benefits as soon as 11 years from now, in 2028. Social Security’s disability insurance is running out of funds to pay promised benefits this year, assumed to survive only by a reallocation of funds from the rest of Social Security, which will make the rest of the program run out of funds sooner.” Read more

Research & Commentary: School Voucher Bill Would Be a Great First Step Toward Private School Choice in Nebraska
A bill has been introduced in the Nebraska Legislature that would establish the Parental Choice Scholarship Program. If passed, the program would provide children attending public schools “at the lowest performance level established by the State Board of Education” with a voucher to help pay for tuition, fees, textbooks, and uniforms at a private school. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson argues that providing vouchers for students in low-performing schools would greatly benefit the state. “Allowing all students in Nebraska to receive vouchers would go even further toward remedying Nebraska’s lackluster record of failing to educate its children. When parents are given the opportunity to choose, every school must compete and improve, which gives more children the opportunity to attend a quality school.” Benson argues. Read more

Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Gas Tax Hikes Will Harm Indiana Drivers Without Funding Roads
In recent years, the rise of fuel-efficient cars has decreased motor-fuel tax coffers and disproportionately shifted the burden to low-income drivers, a group that typically owns older, less-fuel-efficient vehicles. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a new gas tax proposal in Indiana, arguing gas taxes have become unreliable and more efficient funding methods are needed. “Indiana legislators need to explore more modern and efficient ways to fund road construction and traffic infrastructure, such as privatizing roads and establishing toll systems. In several cities, transportation agencies are using congestion pricing—varying toll prices based on congestion—to manage demand and limit traffic problems,” Glans writes. Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Open Telemedicine Across State Lines
Strict licensing standards have become a significant barrier to entry in many fields, but nowhere is the influence of licensing more sharply felt than in the health care industry. In many instances, states control licensing standards, professional discipline, and the various costs associated with the process. These standards are usually championed by existing practitioners to slow or block entry of new competitors. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses medical licensing for telemedicine and the need for new laws allowing physicians to treat patients across state lines. “Although a complete repeal of medical licensing may not be practical, allowing physicians to treat patients across state lines through reciprocity would be a significant step toward addressing doctor shortages,” Glans writes. Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
New Study from Yankee Institute and The Manhattan Institute
Major cities in the state of Connecticut are broken. Hartford, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven are struggling with mountains of debt and unfunded pension liabilities. The cities are also hurting from poor credit ratings and increasing levels of poverty. In a new study from Yankee Institute and the Manhattan Institute entitled Connecticut’s Broken Cities, economist Stephen D. Eide diagnoses the problems that face each of these cities. In the study, Eide claims that “the population of these cities has declined but the number of people living in poverty has grown by 72 percent.” He also claims, “the cities have more retirees receiving pensions and health benefits than they have current workers.” Eide offers possible solutions for city leaders so they can forge a sustainable future for Connecticut’s major cities. Read more