by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The week is a time to reflect on the big picture of educational choice, including some key facets that have been highlighted within this past year:
The evidence that school choice works continues to mount. Last May, the advocacy group EdChoice updated the tally of gold-standard research on private school choice. The vast majority of 100 published studies shows that choice programs benefit their participants, public schools, state treasuries and society at large. Here in Michigan, where public funding of private school choice is banned, the best available research shows charter public schools help students learn more than traditional public schools, especially in Detroit. Work being done by the University of Michigan’s long-standing Charter School Research Project will provide us with more information. …
… The movement for school choice has reached a critical moment of opportunity. Roughly 3 million students in 43 states and the District of Columbia are enrolled in public charter schools. The number of school choice program participants, meanwhile, has grown dramatically in recent years, and now includes nearly 400,000 students in 25 states who benefit from an educational voucher, tax-credit scholarship or education saving account. While many state legislatures consider launching or expanding choice programs of their own, the United States Senate weighs a confirmation vote on the nomination of influential choice advocate Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of education. Despite our onerous state constitution, opportunities exist at the federal level to help expand choice in Michigan.
Put the pieces together, and this National School Choice Week offers a chance not only for reflection and celebration but also for action that gives an unprecedented number of students access to effective education options.