Monday, August 27, 2012

A Lone Star Leap Towards School Choice

On Friday, the Texas State Senate Education Committee held a hearing on bringing a school voucher program to the Lone Star State.  Legislators have been considering enacting prischool choice legislation, with nearly successful campaigns in 2007 and just last year.  While advocates already testified on the merits of school choice, here’s another list on why Texas should enact a statewide, accountable private school voucher program.

Reasons Texas Should Enact Private School Choice

  1. Only 29 percent of 4th graders and 27 percent of Texas 8th graders are proficient in reading.  In math, 39 percent of 4th graders and 40 percent of 8th graders are proficient.
  1. Nearly half—48.8 percent—of Texas students qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.  That’s more than the national average.
  1. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Texas only graduates three-fourths of its high-school students. 
  1. Graduation rates of school choice programs are high.  The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program boasts a graduation rate of 91 percent—more than 30 percentage points higher than students in D.C. Public Schools.  The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program demonstrated graduation rates at more than 7 percentage points higher than students attending the Milwaukee Public Schools.  And a recent study of a New York City voucher program found that African American recipients are 24 percent more likely to enroll in college as a result of participating in the voucher program.
  1. Parents of students who participate in private school choice programs are overwhelmingly satisfied with their child’s academic program.  Consecutive surveys in Louisiana show parental satisfaction of the program above 93 percent.  Surveys in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Florida, and Ohio have all shown high parental satisfaction rates and feedback.
  1. School choice fosters competition: A study of the Florida Scholarship Tax Credit found that the passage of the program led to standardized test score gains in the public schools most likely to lose students to private schools.
  1. But most important of all, parents know best.  Families have the right to escape failing schools and send their children to a school that will provide a quality education.  No one is better suited to see that their children thrive than parents.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the happenings in Texas as legislators work to expand charter schools and bring private school choice to Texas families. And for more research into the benefits of school choice, visit our research page here.

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

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