School choice is all over the news.
The problem is that it’s often highly misunderstood because people see public education funds diverted for use in other schools.
Often, it becomes a battle of “the Democrats vs. the Republicans” because many Republicans are “school choice,” as evident with Trump appointing Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.
What is school choice?
The easiest way to explain school choice is that public education funds will follow students to the school where their needs are best served.
That may be to a public school, a public charter school, home-school, or even a private school. It is where kids will progress best within their learning environment.
Public education funds should be for the public.
There is no specification as to whether it is for a public school.
Public schools allow everyone within a specific district or town to attend the school.
Other schools get a little bit more specific when it comes to admission standards.
For example, public charter schools have a set number of students that they can allow.
Private schools have a set number of students, as well, and also charge tuition.
By allowing school choice, funds can be used at all of the schools so that students have more of an equal opportunity.
School choice, to many, is necessary because public schools don’t always cater to specific needs.
For example, a student with autism may find that it’s better to attend a charter school where there are more services for them.
An honors student may do better in a private school. Students with severe disabilities or behavioral issues may do better in a home-school environment.
However, everyone should receive the financial support that they need in order to go to the school of their choice.
Betsy DeVos and Her Plan for Education
Democrats and Republicans alike were apprehensive when Betsy DeVos was appointed by Trump as the Education Secretary.
One of the reasons for this is because she had the reputation for supporting school choice and the voucher program.
Betsy DeVos is pro-education.
She believes that every student needs to get the education that they deserve.
She recently pitched a $5 billion federal tax credit, funding scholarships to private schools and other educational programs.
While it doesn’t go directly into the public schools like many people believe that it should, it is providing educational opportunities to students.
By funding scholarships, students who would otherwise go to public schools would now have the ability to go to private school.
They would have access to more programs that could help with their education.
The Trump administration’s signature education initiative has been a scholarship program for private schools.
Betsy DeVos has decided to throw her weight behind this legislation. She has joined with a number of Republican lawmakers to champion the proposed legislation.
States will have the ability to opt into the program and will provide corporate and individual donors a dollar for dollar tax credit when they contribute towards the scholarship programs so that families can get the help that they need in order to pay for private school tuition.
Arizona and Florida are already participating in similar programs.
Nonprofit organizations are funding private school vouchers for students who fall into low-income categories.
The program will also allow the states to have some flexibility so that other programs can be funded. Instead of it all going to low-income students, it can fund programs for dual enrollment, apprenticeship, and various remedial programs.
Hundreds of thousands of students across the country can benefit from the vouchers, allowing students to find the right fit for their education.
For too long, public education was seen as a one-size-fits-all solution.
However, not all students are the same. They need to find the right fit in order to get the right education.
As such, public education isn’t always the best solution. America’s forgotten children need to be given the same choices that only the rich have generally been able to obtain.
With private school vouchers, more children can have the opportunity to get the education that they need.
What’s going to happen to public schools?
The biggest complaint revolves around what will happen to public schools if too much federal funding is diverted from them.
However, plenty of states are fighting in order to create a balance between private school tuition scholarships and public school funding.
Additionally, many counties around the country have created special tax initiatives so that more money is going to public schooling.
In the end, it may be that the right answer is that some public schools close because they aren’t able to provide the necessary solutions.
As such, public funding would be used where it can do the most good.