“School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century” says Kevin Chavous, the executive of the American Federation of Children. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Luke Messer (R-ID) introduced new legislation that if passed, will offer federal grants to low-income parents so they can choose a private school for their child if the local public school is unsatisfactory.
Vouchers, along with tax credits, are given to families as a way for lawmakers to provide children from low-income families with these opportunities. However, states differ in their experience with school choice policies. The first state to institute a voucher system was Vermont, which has had some form of voucher policy since 1869. Their head start on school choice has allowed them to create a system in which many children have the ability to receive a voucher, with an approximate value of $14,000.
That is not to say that everyone is in favor of school choice- it’s still quite controversial in many places. In Vermont about 70% of voters support the voucher program, putting them close to the national average of 69%. A recent national study done by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice shows that, mothers are 66% in support of vouchers, and 69% in support of tax credits. Surprisingly, mothers are slightly less likely than the average American to support vouchers.
Especially now, in the days of common core and an anti-America way of teaching history, many see school choice as a way to create competition among schools. Parents don’t want the government’s way of teaching history to be the only way. Since public schools get funding per student, they have an incentive to keep as many students as possible in their schools. If a students only choice is that public school, the school isn’t motivated to get better. If a student has a right to leave and go to another school, that school now needs to work to keep its students.
Supporters of school choice programs vary widely in demographic. The commonly held belief is that it is not the fault of a child if his or her parents cannot afford private school, nor is it the child’s fault if the school they are zoned for is unsafe or failing to provide a good education. Supporters of vouchers argue that every child deserves a chance to excel.
The largest group against school choice are teachers’ unions, who lobby and donate millions of dollars to state and federal campaigns to stop policies like school choice. If Americans had their way,