Thursday

The growth of school choice in the USA

The Heritage Foundation in the USA has a new website covering ‘school choice’ – that is how parents in different states are able to make choices in schooling, whether in private or public (local government) schools.
The Foundation asserts that school choice is a growing trend in America.
Home schooling is an example of ‘school choice’ and has grown very dramatically:

Home schooling is the practice of schooling students at home by parents or guardians. Home schooling is the fastest growing form of school choice. From 1994–2003, the number of home-schooled students rose from 345,000 to 1,100,000.


Charter Schools did not exist at all prior to the 1990s:

Since Minnesota enacted the first charter school law in 1991, over 3,000 independent public schools of choice have opened their doors. A charter school is a public school sponsored by a local school board, university, state board of education, or other state governing body and operated by groups of parents, teachers, other individuals, or private organizations. Charter schools are granted more autonomy than district-run public schools and are held accountable for student performance. Because of the flexibility granted to them, charter schools may differentiate themselves by employing a curriculum that is different from the district’s, having a thematic approach, instituting a longer school day, requiring parental involvement, or using innovative technology. Like other public schools, charter schools are open to all students and are funded through tax receipts.

I was surprised to read that 11 per cent of American school children go to private schools:

According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, 11 percent of students are enrolled in private schools.

The source for this is a here but I have not found the precise reference in the document to check that the figure is not at all misleading. I had previously been told that Americans did not bother with private education except at university.
At any rate, it does seem as though school choice is a growing phenomenon in the USA. It would be good to understand it more fully mand discover, in Britain, what is the extent of the growth of fee-paying faith schools and of home-schooling.
These are examples of people fleeing the unsatisfactory welfare state delivery of services.

  1. The LSE quota for state school students and the possible privatisation of universities
  2. Getting around the failures of state education
  3. Making a dog’s dinner out of school meals
  4. American blacks choosing home education
  5. The Reform manifesto
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One Response to The growth of school choice in the USA

  1. Irene Adler says:

    A trend in US education you may want to research is that many of the “best” government schools are actually semi-private. These are government schools located in wealthy areas where often the mothers do not work outside the home. Mothers (and fathers too, on the weekends) do a tremendous amount of volunteer work, i.e. unpaid labor, to keep the schools at a high-quality level, and also pay for “frills” like extra library books, art and music programs, out of their own pockets. They also conduct extensive fund-raisers throughout the year. Parents in these affluent areas also keep their eyes on the cirriculum which means the social engineering, as opposed to teaching actual information, is kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, these school districts are often very expensive to live in — a top “public” (in the American, not English definition of the word) school district can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the price of a home in the area where I live. (Thus, the generally poor level of government schooling actually aids the affluent in accumulating more value in their homes — not exactly the egalitarian intention of public education advocates is it?)
    Lower-income people don’t have the time, the energy or the affluence to fight to make their government schools decent. They get stuck with the worst of the social engineering.

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