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Exploring the Growing School Choice Movement: Examining the Pros and Cons of Educational Options

The school choice debate has been ongoing for decades, and it has taken on a new level of urgency in recent years as more states pass legislation that provides more educational options for students. School choice allows for tax dollars to follow a student rather than being assigned to a specific school, freeing families from the teachers unions' control and allowing them to pick an education system that aligns with their values.[0]

At least eleven states have introduced or passed school choice bills this year, including Virginia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Kansas.[0] These states are following Arizona's lead, where every student now has access to public education funding and can use it for other educational options.[1] This is part of a surge in legislative victories for school choice that have been driven by parents' dissatisfaction with the attempted indoctrination of their children at taxpayer-funded public schools.[2]

In Republican-dominated states, the primary resistance to these programs has been expressed by rural superintendents, who remind their representatives that the public school in their small town is typically the biggest employer.[3] Rural legislators are warned that any action that weakens the largest industry in their district could prove to be politically hazardous.[3] Historically, the more rural areas of Texas and Oklahoma have been against school choice, creating challenges for those states.[4] However, recent polling has shown that rural voters tend to support school choice, demonstrating that legislators should listen to their constituents' desire to expand educational opportunity for all.[4]

The Nation's Report Card reported that math scores in 2022 experienced the biggest plunge ever.[0] Parents are being driven towards school choice, exploring various avenues to fulfill their children's educational requirements.[5] In 2022, Arizona became the first state to provide universal education scholarship accounts to all 1.1 million K-12 students.[6] We examine which states offer school choice programs, who they are beneficial to, and who they exclude.[2]

Six public radio stations from across the United States are working together on a project called ‘Remaking America'.[7] This conversation was made possible thanks to our partnership with KMUW in Wichita, Kansas.[7] According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation's Report Card, fourth and eighth grade math and reading scores reached their lowest points ever in the past year.[0]

While critics of school vouchers worry they divert money from public schools and that there’s little to no oversight of how the money is spent, Arizona, Iowa, Utah, and West Virginia have all passed school choice legislation.[7] School choice in Arizona has had a positive effect on academic performance for students in rural areas across all schools.[8]

0. “School choice gives parents the power to break teachers unions' chokeholds on students: Corey DeAngelis” Fox News, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/us/school-choice-gives-parents-power-break-teachers-unions-chokeholds-students-corey-deangelis

1. “Fact Check Team: Several states push to expand school choice” KVAL, 15 Feb. 2023, https://kval.com/news/nation-world/several-states-push-to-expand-school-choice-public-school-enrollment-drops-private-schools-charter-schools-religious-schools-department-of-education-culture-wars-do-you-support-school-choice-parents-involved-in-education-process-us-classrooms-education

2. “School choice battles aren’t a ‘culture war’ — they’re the defense of a fundamental liberty” The Hill, 17 Feb. 2023, https://thehill.com/opinion/education/3856488-school-choice-battles-arent-a-culture-war-theyre-the-defense-of-a-fundamental-liberty

3. “What's Behind the Recent Surge in School-Choice Victories” Heritage.org, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.heritage.org/education/commentary/whats-behind-the-recent-surge-school-choice-victories

4. “GOP-Led States Race To Roll Out New School Choice Measures | The New York Sun” The New York Sun, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.nysun.com/article/gop-led-states-race-to-roll-out-new-school-choice-measures

5. “School choice remains popular following COVID closures. What it means for students and schools.” Yahoo News, 2 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/school-choice-still-parents-minds-100004641.html

6. “State Legislative Push for School Choice Gains Momentum Nationwide” Daily Signal, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.dailysignal.com/2023/02/16/state-legislative-push-for-school-choice-gains-momentum-nationwide

7. “1A Remaking America: Who Gets To Choose When It Comes To School Choice? : 1A” NPR, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/13/1156586999/1a-remaking-america-who-gets-to-choose-when-it-comes-to-school-choice

8. “Rural America, School Choice is For You | IWF” Independent Women's Forum, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.iwf.org/2023/02/13/rural-america-school-choice-is-for-you