You’ve probably heard people use the term “school choice.” But how exactly does it work – and how could it affect the lives of Oklahomans like you? Here you’ll find definitions of the types of school choice, and examples of how they’re being used in Oklahoma and in other states.
School vouchers give parents the freedom to use all or part of the tax funding set aside for their children’s education to send their children to the public or private school of their choice.
Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to non-profit organizations that give out private-school scholarships. For those that donate, some programs make individuals eligible to receive tax credits, others permit businesses, and a few allow both.
This mechanism allows parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a portion of their public funding deposited into an education savings account. Parents can use their account funds to pay for private school tuition, online learning programs, private tutoring, or future college expenses.
With personal tax credits and deductions, parents are partially reimbursed by the state for approved educational expenses. This typically includes reimbursement for private school tuition as well as books, supplies, computers, tutors, and transportation. Even when tuition is not eligible for a tax credit or deduction, these programs still make school choice easier for parents who choose private schools.
School vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, tax deductions, and education savings accounts allow families to choose educational options outside the traditional public school setting. Those options typically include:
Private schools are educational institutions run independently of the government. A private school’s focus can be religious-based, academic-intensive, and/or specialized for specific groups of students. According to various government reports, private schools have higher academic standards, better graduation rates, and safer learning environments than their public-school counterparts. Private schools typically charge tuition, but not always. There are more than six million students attending nearly 34,000 private schools in the United States.
Parents who choose home schooling educate their children outside of public or private schools, typically within their own homes. This method of education is becoming more common in the United States, growing to approximately 1.5 million home-schooled students in 2007, from about 15,000 such students in 1970. Many states require standardized tests, curriculum approval, and regular professional evaluation for students who are home schooled.
Charter schools are public schools that are freed from many government rules and regulations in exchange for increased financial and academic accountability. This allows charter schools to be more entrepreneurial like private schools. Charter schools are open to all children, who are enrolled randomly, and are accountable for student achievement. Currently, 41 states and Washington, D.C., have laws allowing for charter schools. There are more than 4,000 charter schools in the United States.
Online learning allows students to receive a teacher-driven education through Internet-based curriculum. Such methods provide flexibility and allow for highly individualized, personalized instruction. In some states, virtual schools must have brick-and-mortar locations where children go to receive online instruction. In other states, online learning can be done from home. Children can enroll in online courses full-time or part-time.