Education Guide / Issues
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSES?
Choice can take many forms, like a public school with a science or arts focus, or a magnet school with a required admissions process. Over the last 20 years, charter schools that are public but operate outside the school system without typical bureaucratic constraints have also rapidly expanded. In other cases, low-income families are awarded vouchers to pay for private school tuition.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Even as scores of families seek others options, it’s not clear they led to a better education, nor is there proof that the infusion of variety and competition is improving the larger system. Critics raise concerns that offering choice may amount mostly to “skimming” the best students, while school systems with funding tied to enrollment claim that that it is more difficult to improve when they lose students. When reporting on school choice, ask whether these schools are improving outcomes for students – and examine how students are recruited and enrolled. Compare enrollment demographics of surrounding schools before trying to assess relative student performance; only when these are similar does it make sense to compare outcomes like test score data or graduation rates.