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We hear the term “school choice” quite a lot and, with Hollywood shining a spotlight on the issue with new film Won't Back Down, we are bound to hear even more in the coming weeks. However, "school choice" is a blanket term that can mean a variety of different things. In my last piece, we looked at charter schools, open enrollment, and school vouchers and how they are helping children succeed. In this piece, let’s take a look at tax credits and magnet schools, and how they also have been successful for American children.
Tax credits (known as tuition tax credits and scholarship tax credits) are now available in ten states and can take different forms which serve as alternatives to school voucher programs. Scholarships to private schools are funded by individuals and corporations who have allocated a portion of their tax bill to tuition organizations. As this tax money pays for the student’s tuition, the state does not need to fund the education of these students. According to the National Conference of State Legislature, as private “school tuition “is typically less than the per-pupil cost at public schools,” this is a cost-saving measure for the state. These scholarships give families other options and increase competition in education while costing nothing extra to the taxpayer. It is a free market solution that works: removing the financial obstacles to choice and reducing the overall cost of education per student.
Magnet schools are another growing sector of school options. These are public schools with specialized curriculum in certain subject areas which reach across regular school district boundaries. This specialized curriculum can be anything from the arts to science and technology, thus giving parents the power to put their children in the best school for their gifts and needs. Another plus? The children enjoy school. As magnet school teacher Julie Breckenridge said “The kids that are here are always excited, because it’s a magnet school and they want to be here.” It has also been shown that children who attend magnet schools have test scores equal to or higher than those in traditional schools. As teachers and parents agree that all children have a different learning style it just makes sense to empower and equip students in the areas of study where they are most likely to be successful.
Empowering parents and creating competition in education mean better results for our children. Fortunately, school choice is increasingly becoming possible for more parents in America. School Choice Week will be here before we know it, and we look forward to sharing even more information about educational opportunities for America's children.