School Choice: Does it Really Affect Your Child’s Education?

School Choice: Does it Really Affect Your Child's Education?
School Choice: Does it Really Affect Your Child's Education?

There’s growing controversy over school choice programs that are on the rise in the US. Many of us feel that the mainstream education system has too much control over our children’s lives and academic pursuits. While some kids fit the mold and breeze through the public school system with few issues, others struggle to adapt. School choice gives those students and their families more options.

How Does School Choice Really Work?

The subject can be slightly complicated, especially if you’ve never considered it before. The public school your child is assigned to depends on your address within the district you live in. If there are multiple schools in the district, you can choose one of those or go outside of the district, too, with permission.

Schools with more academic and sports opportunities often gain more popularity, allowing more public schools to be competitive. You can also choose to send your child to a charter or private school if that suits your fancy.

The issue lies with more kids going to a particular “popular” school and leaving less funding for the school they were originally assigned to within their district.

Vouchers Can Help Make Private School More Affordable

Voucher programs help offset the cost of private schools. Some have requirements that include:

  • Low-income perimeters
  • Disability requirements
  • In-district schools with consistent low academic performance levels

Vouchers work in different ways and only if you live in a school district and state that offers them. The money can typically only be used toward tuition costs. The main benefit is students and parents have an option and are not locked into one particular school within their neighborhood.

There are other ways to help pay for private or for-profit schooling, as well.

  • Education savings account or ESA. A deposit of public funding into a government savings account. Monies can offset tuition costs at a private school.
  • Tax credit scholarships. If you donate to a nonprofit, you can get a full or partial tax credit.
  • Individual tax credits. Parents receive relief on their state income taxes for approved educational expenditures.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

One of the major pros of school choice is giving your child a quality education as you see fit. This could be through a class A, charter, private school or distance learning. In certain states like Maine and Vermont, you can obtain a voucher and use it toward tuition costs.

Having more options is beneficial. Maybe you want your child to attend a private Catholic school or a charter school that takes a non-mainstream approach to teaching. Additionally, parents who choose the school their child attends tend to be more involved and more satisfied.

The con is vouchers take money away from the public school system. Smaller schools with struggling academics in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods, for example, will suffer the most. While it’s good to have a choice, lower enrollment numbers can make it hard for those schools to compete due to budget constraints.

Being stuck in a school system that doesn’t work for your child is frustrating and heartbreaking. The results are often failing grades, rebellion and low self-worth. Whether it’s academic struggles, bullying or violence, you want your child to be happy, safe and productive in the classroom.

Don’t settle for a school that is failing your child. Knowing that there are options out there for your child’s education brings peace of mind.

The attention around school choice is growing and it may not be long before it’s available across the country. For now, stay educated and informed on the topic. Use your voice to share and promote awareness. It’s your right as an American and for the children of the future.

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