What does “School Choice” really mean?

School choice allows families to choose the best education available for their child. Regardless of their social or economic status, parents know their children best, care the most and are most impacted by their children’s success or failure. Therefore, it is the parents’ role to choose the school that best fits their child’s individual educational needs.

The Pennsylvania school code, in section 1327, states:

“It is the policy of the Commonwealth to preserve the primary right and obligation of the parent or parents, or person or persons in loco parentis to a child, to choose the education and training for such child.”

In 2001, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program overwhelmingly passed the legislature and was signed into law by former Governor Tom Ridge. During the 2010-2011 school year, the EITC program helped 44,000 children have access to the schools of their choice.

School choice continues to gain momentum in Pennsylvania and across the nation.  Weeks after Pennsylvania passed the EITC program, Florida followed suit and passed its own tax credit program.  As of January 2007, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, and Rhode Island had instituted corporate educational tax credit programs.

In 2002, the school choice movement received one of its biggest victories when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its landmark Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case declaring school voucher programs like those in Milwaukee, WI and Cleveland, OH constitutional.

These favorable decisions and new programs, plus overwhelming academic proof documenting the effectiveness of school choice, have bolstered efforts to secure greater parental choice in Pennsylvania and across the country.

The school choice movement is gaining momentum and is becoming an accepted public policy option in the education reform agenda.  Despite the overwhelming evidence that school choice works, opponents of parental choice have increasingly stepped up their efforts to defeat these common-sense educational reform measures.

Too many children are still trapped in failing government-run, zip code-based schools.  Parents – and children – can’t afford to wait any longer to be given the option to attend a school that best fits their educational needs.