29th 2016
The Inevitability of Educational Choice

Posted under Magnet School & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits

Well, my friends, National School Choice Week 2016 is almost over. I know, I know. Every week should really be National School Choice Week. But let’s be honest, we can’t expect to pull together massive rallies like the one we had yesterday every week. And hey, at least you got to watch some sweet videos and learn a new dance.

As this year’s biggest school choice celebration winds down, I think it’s good for us to pause and consider how far educational choice has come in America. Private school choice experienced explosive growth across the country in 2015, with 15 states adopting or expanding 21 different educational choice programs. More than half the states in America now offer some type of private educational choice option—an astonishing 59 programs in total.

There are now 166,588 kids using school vouchers; 219,833 kids in scholarship tax credit programs; and 7,046 kids making use of education savings accounts in the United States. Sadly, Colorado has yet to unleash the full benefits of private school choice.

Growth in school choice hasn’t been limited to private schools. Public school choice is also expanding rapidly. There are 6,700 public charter schools in the United States. Those schools serve nearly three million kids.

There are an estimated 2.2 million kids being homeschooled in the United States. Another 320,000 students are enrolled in full-time online education, and 2.3 million students take online classes in addition to their brick-and-mortar education. Yet another 2.6 million students attend 3,200 magnet schools found in all 50 states.

Here in Colorado, there are now 226 charter schools serving more than 108,000 students. That’s about 12 percent of total public school enrollment in the state. Roughly 10 percent of PK-12 students in Colorado—nearly 87,000 kids—attend schools outside their districts of residence, and an uncountable number of others attend schools within their district other than their assigned neighborhood schools.

School choice is not just a thing. It is the thing.

And the best part? There’s no going back now. The educational choice movement has fundamentally altered the education paradigm. Now that parents and students have tasted educational freedom, there will be no returning to the days of rigid, monopolistic systems that too often fall short of meeting students’ needs. The Overton Window has shifted, and it will never shift back.

As Andy Smarick recently wrote in a piece fittingly titled “School Choice: The End of the Beginning”: “Increasingly, the conversation is no longer about whether to have school choice. It’s about how to make school choice work.”

We too often find ourselves sitting around tables talking about school choice as if it is still some newfangled, crazy idea. It’s not, and we should stop. We are not an idealistic minority, we are the majority.  Choice in education is the rule, not the exception. We’re the tide, not the sand castle.

Let’s make sure we enter this year’s school choice battles with the right perspective. Victory is, after all, inevitable.



4 Responses to “The Inevitability of Educational Choice”

  1. Ed is Watching » Justice Scalia’s Passing Leaves Me Sad and Worried on 15 Feb 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    [...] we now face the distinct possibility of getting no real decision at all—or worse. Then again, the tide always wins against the sand castle in the end. It may take a little longer to knock down Blaine Amendments and free teachers of forced [...]

  2. Ed is Watching » The Washington Charter Phoenix Rises on 08 Apr 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    [...] turns out, the desire for choice in education is a hard thing to kill. As I’ve said before, the war for choice is already over. It’s just a matter of time until the last remnants of the anti-choice sand castle crumbles under [...]

  3. Ed is Watching » New Dougco Ruling Stretches Logic, Hampers Choice on 11 Aug 2016 at 10:10 am #

    [...] world we live in, friends. But if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that choice will inevitably win in the end. Take care, and I’ll see you next [...]

  4. Ed is Watching » Educational Choice, Hell, and the 2018 Gubernatorial Race on 14 Dec 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    [...] change, right? One would hope that Sen. Merrifield’s positions would soften following years of rapidly expanding educational choice and piles of compelling evidence that both public and private school choice can be powerfully [...]

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