School Choice

Eric K. Hilgendorf

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
School Choice

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“School choice” refers to several distinct, school-based reform initiatives that have been legislatively implemented, divisible into the categories “voucher programs” and “charter schools.” As a concept, school choice is designed to redefine the role of the parent (and student) in public education by allowing parental choice of school rather than student placement through district school clustering and feeder programs. In this regard, school choice necessitates that school districts allocate a per-pupil amount of funding for the student to use for educational purposes; however, there are significant differences in how voucher funds are allocated versus those for charter schools. With a voucher program, the funds are of highest portability and the parent may choose to send his or her child to any public or private school. With the charter school program, per-pupil funds are still allocated to the student but are funneled through whichever charter school the parent chooses. Several concerns have been raised with both programs; the primary and most common one is that both choice programs will strip public school of its necessary funding mechanisms and are especially vocal with voucher fund usage in the private and parochial sector. Opponents of charter schools similarly claim that the charter schools are divesting the districts of critical revenue; however, under federal law all charter schools are public schools. While funding does move out of the control of the district to the charter school, it remains in the public sector. Advocates of both programs claim that per-pupil revenues are not commensurate with those that noncharter/voucher students receive and, as a result, are financially constrained from providing a high-quality educational program. Within the charter school program, this problem seems most acute as schools have to provide facility costs for their schools, which must come either from a percentage of the per-pupil funds or via philanthropic efforts. Additionally, in many states charter schools also face issues of limited enrollment criteria, inequality between state and local funding, onerous authorization processes, school caps, and reauthorization procedures.

Article.  8400 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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