July 18, 2003

July 18, 2003 | News Releases on Education

Heritage Offers a Comprehensive Guide to the School-Choice Movement

Millions of students nationwide no longer attend their local public school. They're home schooled, they attend a charter school, they attend a better-performing public school elsewhere in their district, or they use a voucher or a private scholarship to pay for the private or parochial school of their choice.


That choice in education is good news for students, according to Heritage Foundation education analyst Krista Kafer. "School choice works," she says. "Choice engages parents and creates a healthy competition that helps all schools improve, public as well as private."


That choice is increasingly varied and widespread, Kafer says:

  • Six states offer students state- or district-funded scholarships to attend a private school of choice.
  • Six states have tax credits or deductions for education expenses or contributions to scholarship programs.
  • 15 states guarantee public school students choices within or between school districts.
  • Home schooling is legal in all 50 states, and as many as 2 million students are now being home schooled.

Kafer is the editor of a new book, School Choice 2003: How States Are Providing Greater Opportunity In Education, a one-stop resource for education statistics from every state and the District of Columbia. Want to know how many schools there are in California (8,757)? How much Massachusetts spends per student ($9,883)? How many 4th graders in Ohio are proficient in math (24 percent)? It's all in there, along with contact information for state officials and school choice advocates.


The book also provides a comprehensive look at recent progress toward giving public school students a real choice. Kafer found that when public schools faced a challenge from private schools, charter schools and home schools, all students benefited.


"Schools located in areas where there was high competition in attracting students -- and their per-pupil funding -- had a strong incentive to improve performance," she writes.


The school-choice movement is growing all the time, which makes this book an ever-more valuable resource. And Heritage has available an on-line version, which will be updated continuously with new information, assuring that the Web version never will be obsolete.

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