Celebrating National School Choice Week 2023
Each year, National School Choice Week is held in late-January to celebrate the many diverse opportunities in American education. This year’s celebration is set to be the largest ever, with 23 different Governors declaring “School Choice Week” in their state and 26,499 total events being held across all 50 states. It serves as an important reminder that school choice isn’t about public schools vs. private schools or Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s about recognizing the unique and individual needs of each family and ensuring the best option is available to them.
This is even more important in light of recent polling from the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, which finds that 53.7% of parents are considering or have recently considered moving their child to another school. The survey also found that 64.7% of parents wish they had more information on the school choice options available to them, and 37.9% of parents said they supplemented their child’s education with in-person or remote tutoring services.
National School Choice Week is a tremendous opportunity to remind families across the country of the school choice options that are available to them. For example, families in West Virginia may not have been aware of the state’s new Hope Scholarship Program, which allows over 90% of students to participate. Similarly, some families in Arizona may not have been aware that the legislature expanded the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account Program to allow all students in the state to participate. This week serves as an opportunity to publicize these important programs and encourage families to participate if they think it’s right for them.
There are also a number of state legislatures making serious efforts to create similar programs in their state, including:
- Iowa – SF 94 (Sponsored by Senator Amy Sinclair and Representative John Wills) has received the backing of Governor Kim Reynolds and would create a nearly universal education savings account program (families currently enrolled in a private school with household income exceeding 300% of the federal poverty guidelines are not eligible). Funding for each account is equal to the regular state portion of state money that would have otherwise gone toward educating the student in their public school. The bill has already passed the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting a floor vote.
- Utah – HB 215 (Sponsored by Representative Candice Periutci) was fast-tracked and became the first school choice bill to pass a legislative chamber this year. The bill would create an education savings account program that is fully universal with a maximum amount of $8,000 per account, which increases in future years based on inflation.
- Florida – HB 1 (Sponsored by Representative Kaylee Tuck) is backed by Speaker Paul Renner and would modify the state’s existing tax-credit scholarship program, called the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, to convert it to an education savings account program. The new ESAs would be open to all students in the state, but funding would continue to rely on tax credits in exchange for donor contributions to scholarship-granting organizations. As a result, actual program participation would be limited by the amount of contributions each year.
- Virginia – HB 1508 (Sponsored by Representative Glenn Davis), which is backed by Governor Youngkin and Lieutenant Governor Sears, would create education savings accounts for nearly all students in the state. The bill’s only requirement is that students must have attended a public school in the immediately preceding semester or be entering Kindergarten to participate. Funding for each account is equal to 95% of the money that would have otherwise been spent by the states to educate the student in their public school.
- Oklahoma – SB 822 (Sponsored by Senator Julie Daniels) would create a fully universal education savings account program that allows 100% of state funds to follow the student. State Superintendent of Education, Ryan Walters, is also backing the bill.
With these states leading the way in 2023, and so many others doing the same over the past two years, American families have never had more access to educational options at any point in our history. It’s no surprise that this year’s National School Choice Week is poised to be the largest ever, and families around the country have a lot to be excited for.