May 23, 2023
School Choice is a strategy which gives government money to parents to spend on their children’s education.
The goals of the strategy are to
- allow ordinary people to choose the type of education that is best for their children, and
- stop the public school establishment from indoctrinating students in political ideology.
School Choice is failing on both counts.
Arizona is the poster child for School Choice. It has the most experience with a Universal (unfettered) Education Savings Account (ESA) program among all the states.
As of May 22, 2023, 56,912 Arizona students are receiving government money for private education through an ESA. More than 1,111,000 students attend publicly funded K-12 schools in Arizona.
If we were to assume all of those ESA students came from the public schools, that would mean 5% (56,912 / 1,111,000) of Arizona public school students have left for private education because of an ESA. But a substantial number of the ESA students were either already in private education or would have gone into private education anyway.
So we can confidently say that less than 5% of Arizona public school students have left for private education because of the ESA program.
73% of parents nationally support school choice programs. That is because they have been led to believe School Choice will enable the children of parents just like them to escape from bad public schools.
They would be shocked to find out that less than 5% of public school children are actually able to make the move to a better education using ESAs.
As for the second goal of stopping public schools from indoctrinating so many students with political ideology: It is necessary to remove more than 50% of the public school students in order to make a practical difference in the indoctrination rate.
A success rate of less than 5% is far below the 50% target.
School Choice hype is just that — hype. School Choice cannot meet the expectations that its proponents are creating.