October 12, 2001

October 12, 2001 | News Releases on Education

Number of U.S. Charter School Students Doubles in Two Years, Study Finds

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2001-The number of children learning in charter schools has doubled in the past two years, according to The Heritage Foundation's latest state-by-state review of school choice.

As of February 2001, more than half a million children went to independently run charter schools in 34 states and Washington, D.C. That's twice the number of charter school students in 1999, writes Heritage education expert Jennifer Garrett in "School Choice 2001: What's Happening in the States."

Meanwhile, at least 31 state legislatures this year considered tax credits or deductions for education expenses or contributions to scholarships programs for low-income students. That's up from 18 in 2000, Garrett writes.

One reason for the increase, she says, is that education became a top issue during the 2000 presidential campaign, with both Vice President Al Gore and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush debating school choice and other education proposals. One of President Bush's first acts once in office was to propose education reform that would "leave no child behind."

"School choice is gaining more allies from Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue," Garrett says. "As the number of legislative proposals before Congress and the state legislatures indicates, support for school choice will only increase until adequate reforms to the current system allow all children to attend schools that actually teach."

"School Choice 2001" also found:

  • More than 50,000 students benefited during the 1999-2000 school year from almost 100 privately funded scholarship programs that allow them to attend the schools of their choice. · About 12,000 students are taking advantage of taxpayer-supported choice programs this year in Florida, Maine, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin. · During the 2000-2001 school year, almost 2 million children in grades K-12 were home schooled-about 3 percent of the number of school-aged children in the United States.

"School Choice 2001" contains individual profiles of all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Mariana Islands. The book also has background material and contact information for state education officials and national organizations that support school choice.

The 265-page book also will be made available on the Heritage Web site with links to the states' own report cards on how their schools are performing and updates on legislative activity.

"It is our hope that parents, educational professionals, researchers, policy-makers, education reformers and school-choice advocates will find this information useful and continue striving to improve America's education system," Garrett says.

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