The school choice movement has achieved liftoff.
It took decades to get to this point. The school choice movement, supported by parents and reform-minded educators, for years crept along state by state, incremental program by program. Thirty-one states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have adopted school choice programs that grant educational savings accounts, tax credits, and vouchers. But the rights of parents to choose the best and most appropriate school for their children has often been a bit player, tolerated but not celebrated. School choice has been more of an educational outlier than a paradigm shift.
Protect The 1st is convinced the school choice movement is vital to the future of American children and society. Decades of research show that choice brings powerful improvements to educational outcomes and to children’s lives. The First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion must also include room for parents to choose schools that reflect their beliefs, while adhering to state standards in learning.
In 2021, a year supporters deemed “The Year of Educational Choice,” saw 19 states enact 32 new or expanded school choice programs. In that year, West Virginia became the first state to enact a publicly-funded choice program for all students. The following year, Arizona followed suit. In 2023, momentum is building into a breakout year. The adoption of school choice polices in one state is spurring other states to adopt or expand school choice policies.
Last week, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a school-choice bill that made Arkansas the fifth state in two years to pass universal school choice, following the most recent examples of Iowa and Utah. Last week as well, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature advanced a bill to establish tax credits to encourage donations to private-school scholarships for students in need.
From Florida, to Idaho, to Utah, parents and policymakers are embracing choice as the means to give children access to better schools while challenging traditional public schools to do a better job of educating children.
The obvious need and success of school choice is based on growing bipartisan support. The Nebraska bill advanced with the support of three Democratic state senators. It is no surprise that 82 percent of Republicans support school choice, but 68 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents support school choice as well. Protect The 1st applauded Democratic leaders in Illinois and Pennsylvania for committing to expand private scholarship programs. We look forward to more action by leaders in both parties in states and cities across the country.
The movement and the moment have come together. The school choice movement is finally fast on the move.