National School Choice Week Celebrates Victories for Millions of Students and Families
Today marks the beginning of 2024’s National School Choice Week – an opportunity to highlight parental choice, encourage states to adopt education freedom, and celebrate those who have created new and expanded existing programs to all. Twenty-two different Governors have proclaimed this week as “National School Choice Week” in their states, and there will be more than 27,000 events across all 50 states to celebrate education freedom.
2023 was a monumental year for education freedom, with eight different states (Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, and Oklahoma) passing universally available education freedom programs. These efforts now mean that 12.5 million students across the country can access a program that will help them attend whatever high-quality school is the best fit for them. Every student, regardless of income, race, gender, geography, or any other factor, deserves access to a high-quality education that best fits their learning needs. Lawmakers across the country are continuing to explore ways to put parents in charge of their student’s education, and we’re excited to see what 2024 holds for millions of families around the country who are waiting for education freedom to come to their states. A few of the most significant program creations are listed below.
During National School Choice Week last year, Governor Reynolds signed legislation into law that created the Students First Scholarship program. The program will gradually expand eligibility and eventually be available to all students by FY2026. Participating students can receive a scholarship equal in value to the state cost per pupil plus an annual growth factor.
Also signed into law during 2023’s National School Choice Week, the Utah Fits All Scholarship program provides an $8,000 scholarship to participating students. Though all students can apply to participate in the program, certain groups of students are prioritized over others. The legislature capped the program with an appropriation of $42,500,000, so just over 5,000 students can use the program.
The most significant piece of enacted education-freedom legislation from 2023 was the Arkansas LEARNS Act. The bill, championed by Governor Sanders, eliminated the growth cap on charter schools, raised teacher pay, created literacy coaching positions for K-3 students, and created the Arkansas’ Children’s Education Freedom Account Program. This new program offers all families in the state 90% of the state funds that would have been spent to teach their child in public school.
Florida has traditionally been regarded as the leading state for education freedom, and lawmakers responded to the positive developments across the country by expanding their own Family Empowerment Scholarship program to all students in the state. Thanks to these efforts, all Florida families can obtain a scholarship equal to what the state would have spent to teach their child in public school.