I am guessing that if one would survey random citizens as they walk the downtown streets in your community asking the question, “Does our state have school choice legislation?”, you would receive some interesting responses. A fair guess would be that most would not be aware of school choice legislation in their state. The Friedman Foundation has declared “No More!” to school choice illiteracy and released The ABCs of School Choice, a detailed state-by-state guide to private school choice programs. Milton and Rose Friedman founded the Friedman Foundation in 1996, an organization dedicated to making school choice an opportunity for all families in the United States. They truly believe that school choice is the best way to improve the quality of American education.
This report is an incredible resource for Christian school advocates. Each state listed has different choice programs that we can glean model legislation in order to better advocate in our own states. It is a wonderful example of what CACE is hoping to do – provide a clearinghouse of resources and make connections for those who are passionate about promoting, improving, innovating and sustaining Christian education.
From Alabama’s 2013 Accountability Act where parents can receive a tax credit or rebate for up to 80% of the average annual state cost of attending a K-12 public school or the actual cost of their child’s private school to Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program that allows students in low- and middle-income families to receive vouchers to attend private school, the progress being made in school choice is incredible. Momentum for school choice has been building since the late 1990’s. And, not only at the state level! Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Tim Scott introduced new school choice legislation at the American Enterprise Institute. Their reasoning: Helping low-income kids attend private schools – or other schools of choice – can give them a boost up the economic ladder. This bill was introduced during National School Choice Week (January 26-February 1).
What if we took a couple minutes this week to ensure that our state legislators are up-to-date on the school choice programs in our states? As we consider this call to action, let us also make sure that our state legislators know what possibilities exist! Make a call, send an email, attend your caucus or town hall meeting and spread the word!
Dr. Tim Van Soelen serves as the Director of CACE. Tim is also a professor of education at Dordt University. He has served as a principal, assistant principal, and middle school math and computer teacher at schools in South Dakota and California. Tim has his undergraduate degree from Dordt and advanced degrees from Azusa Pacific University and the University of South Dakota.