School Choice Makes History: More U.S. States Enact, Expand School Choice in 2011 than Ever Before
Posted on Friday July 01, 2011 | National
As America Prepares to Celebrate Independence Day, an Unprecedented Number of Families Are Poised to Benefit from Educational Freedom in the Upcoming School Year
More states have passed school voucher or scholarship tax credit legislation in 2011 than ever before, according to an analysis by the American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice.
AFC hailed the legislative progress for educational quality in a year when 27 legislative chambers passed bills to create, expand, or strengthen school choice programs.
In total, 11 states and the U.S. Congress passed school choice legislation in just the first six months of 2011:
-- Indiana passed the nation’s most expansive school voucher program, which is set to benefit thousands of children from low-and middle-income families.
-- In Washington, D.C., Congress reauthorized and expanded the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships so that children from low-income families can attend the private schools of their parents’ choice.
--Ohio quadrupled the number of children eligible to receive EdChoice vouchers, increased scholarship amounts for the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, and created a new scholarship program for children with special needs.
-- Wisconsin dramatically expanded the nation’s longest-running school choice program—the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program—and created a new scholarship program for children in Racine.
-- Arizona passed the nation’s first Education Savings Account legislation, which will benefit children with special needs.
-- Florida expanded its corporate scholarship tax credit program, increasing the amount and type of allowable corporate donations to scholarship organizations. The Sunshine State also expanded the McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities.
-- Georgia strengthened and expanded its corporate and individual scholarship tax credit program.
-- North Carolina enacted a tax credit program for children with special needs.
-- In Colorado, the Douglas County School Board (a school system near Denver) took an unprecedented vote to create a local school voucher program—passing unanimously.
-- Iowa expanded funding for its scholarship tax credit program by more than $1 million per year.
-- Oklahoma created a new scholarship tax credit program.
-- Utah increased funding for the state’s Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program.
With the creation of seven new programs (in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Wisconsin), the school choice movement has eclipsed its previous record—in 2006—when five new school choice programs were enacted into law. Of the seven newly-enacted programs, four are school voucher programs, two are new tax credit programs, and one is the nation's first-ever education savings account program.
"This has been a significant year for educational freedom nationwide. To put these victories in perspective: it took the school choice movement 20 years to enact the first 20 private school choice programs," said AFC chairman Betsy DeVos. "In just the first half of 2011, legislatures across the country have enacted seven more programs, demonstrating that this year is truly 'the year of school choice'."
Nationwide, 42 states have considered school choice legislation in 2011.