School Choice in America: What Does Research Tell Us?
School choice is more than a sound bite—it is a social movement. Between 1990 and 2015, lawmakers in over 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted a range of school choice laws. The rationale for doing so spans from empowering teachers to create innovative classrooms to expanding opportunities for parents. Polling data from a Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll and Education Next indicate that the American public supports school choice. So do leaders in corporate, philanthropic and faith-based communities.
Why? Because school choice programs advance opportunity. In this testimony I will focus on four school choice programs: charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts (ESAs). It is worth noting early in my testimony the popular misconception about school choice—that it only benefits children from wealthy households or is used solely by white and Asian families. In reality, affluent families are more able to move to the district of their choice, giving them a method by which to choose their school in the absence of school choice policies. One of the great accomplishments of the school choice movement, then, is that it has been able to serve students from all races and backgrounds that might not otherwise have the ability to choose their school. Students in urban settings have been found to benefit the most.