Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011's School Choice Successes Showcase Movement's Bipartisan Strength

We're just seven months in, and already, 2011 has been a banner year for school choice in the mainstream media. In the past month alone, there's been prominently-featured coverage from The Wall Street JournalThe Chicago Tribune, and today, the Associated Press. Here's the AP headline:

There's no factual inaccuracy there—this has been a remarkably successful year for school choice legislation, and the states with the greatest amount of success are helmed by Republican governors—but it belies an additional, and perhaps more important, point: that these pieces of legislation featured significant bipartisan support.

Below, we've showcased just a smattering of the bipartisan successes that have helped deem 2011 "The Year of School Choice." While not all voucher programs, they're all significant contributions to the cause of expanding educational options.

  • Indiana was home to the creation of the nation's most expansive voucher program ever, and multiple Democrats supported the bill (and during the debate on the bill, the state got a welcome visit from Democratic reformer Michelle Rhee).
  • In New Jersey, too, the most powerful voice in favor of the creation of the Opportunity Scholarship Act (a proposed scholarship tax credit program plan) along with Gov. Chris Christie (R) is longtime Democrat George Norcross.
  • We can't forget Georgia, either, where it took a bipartisan team of legislators to create the state's most notable school choice victory of the session, in the form of strong improvements to the Peach State's Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
  • And while in Wisconsin, the state budget that included historic school choice expansions for Milwaukee and Racine feel along party lines (largely thanks to other provisions and an earlier, unrelated fight this year about collective bargaining rights), many of the final elements of the plan were made possible thanks to efforts from both parties (notably Democratic Rep. Jason Fields, who was also the subject of our very first School Choice Now! blog post).
And a national audience witnessed the 11th hour deal that prevented a federal government shutdown in early April, a deal that also reauthorized the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in the nation's capital.

It was, of course, signed into law by President Obama.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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