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School Choice Update

• ExcelinEd News


  • How parents make choices: Looking at applicants to New York City’s centralized high school assignment mechanism, a working paper examines the relationship between parent preferences, peer characteristics, and school effectiveness. The researchers find parents prefer schools that enroll high-achieving peers, but, among schools with similar student populations, parents do not rank more effective schools more favorably. The results have been used to suggest parents lack access to sufficient information focusing on school effectiveness. Paul Peterson (Harvard’s PEPG) said the report’s data shows that having high-achieving students is actually a good proxy for school quality. (The Atlantic and Chalkbeat)
  • Choice and accountability: In National Affairs, Michael Petrilli (Fordham Institute) makes the case that conservatives should advocate for both choice and accountability, writing that parental satisfaction is not enough and competition is insufficient to improve traditional public schools.
  • Universal choice: Responding to Robert Enlow (EdChoice) in The 74, David Osborne (author of Reinventing America’s Schools) explained his opposition to universal private school choice. Patrick Wolf responded to Osborne’s arguments regarding private school choice’s impact on academic achievement, student stratification, and more.
  • Positive coverage: Former Governor Jeb Bush explained what Florida can teach America about “Empowering Families Through Educational Freedom” in The Line and The 74. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Center for Advancing Opportunity partnered on an op-ed advocating “Parents Need Charters, Change and Choice.”
  • Federal: The administration’s proposed priorities for competitive grants included school choice among other priorities. (Education Week)



  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City University released a study on the Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships program, which found the tax-credit scholarship program had positive fiscal effects for both the state ($1.24 savings for every $1 of tax credit issued) and Oklahoma taxpayers ($2.58 return for every $1 of tax credit issued). (The Journal Record)
  • Maryland: A Maryland state education panel voted to rescind a private school’s eligibility to participate in the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) voucher program because the school said it reserved the right to deny admission to gay and transgender students. The voucher program requires private schools who accept scholarship students to sign an agreement pledging that they will not discriminate in admissions on the basis of race, color, national origin or sexual orientation.
  • Vermont: The Vermont Independent Schools Association is developing a plan for private schools to enroll more students with special needs by having the student’s residential school district cover the costs of necessary staff and resources to provide special education services. (Vermont NPR)
  • Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania state senator has introduced legislation that would create ESAs for the Commonwealth’s most underserved students. (Watchdog and Heartland Institute)
  • Florida: Florida lawmakers are proposing a new school choice program to serve students who have been a victim of bullying, assault, or other violent trauma. The proposal would allow those students to transfer to another public school in their district or leave the public system with a “Hope Scholarship.” (redefinED, The Capitolist, and WOKV)



“Schools Without Rules: An Orlando Sentinel Investigation”

The Orlando Sentinel’s three-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) argues that “Florida private schools rake in nearly $1 billion in state scholarships with little oversight.” While the series identified some legitimate issues that should be addressed, it distorted the overall effectiveness of Florida’s private school choice programs, minimizing or omitting findings on academic achievement and attainment, fiscal effectiveness and financial and academic accountability. Step Up For Students provided a detailed response in RedefinED, as did many private school choice advocates. (See AFC, RedefinED, James Madison Institute and more.) Parents also responded, sharing stories of their children’s success in choice programs on the Sentinel’s Facebook post. The Sentinel published parent responses here, and parents can continue to respond here.


Military Families and Choice

A new report analyzes the results of a survey of active-duty military servicemembers, veterans, and their spouses exploring their views on K-12 education and education choice. Although 80 percent of military-connected students are enrolled in traditional public schools, the survey results show high-levels of support for education choice policies including ESAs (72% favor), vouchers (64%), and tax-credit scholarships (63%). Note that a Military Times and Collaborative for Student Success 2017 survey shows that 35 percent of respondents said that dissatisfaction with their child’s education was a “significant factor” in deciding whether or not to continue military service.


National Parent Power! Index

Last week, the Center for Education Reform released the 2017 Parent Power! Index. The report provides an interactive tool so that parents can discover to what extent their state affords them power over their children’s education. This year’s index leaders are Florida, Indiana, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia. The states reported as having the least amount of parental power were North Dakota, Nebraska, and Alaska. (CER Press Release and Washington Times)


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