School Choice Has Big Year in 2023

Student at desk
Student at desk | Image by milatas/Shutterstock

Multiple states adopted or expanded school choice programs in 2023, enabling more U.S. families to use taxpayer money to finance educational alternatives to traditional public schools for their children.

Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Utah enacted such policies, as did Wisconsin, which increased the amount of taxpayer money available for families to pay for private school or homeschooling expenses.

“We’ve had the biggest wins the school choice movement has ever witnessed,” American Federation for Children senior fellow Corey DeAngelis said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “A universal school choice revolution has ignited.”

“We’re seeing the laboratories of democracy working right before our very eyes, at least in red states,” he said.

In Texas, however, the state legislature failed to advance school choice legislation in one regular session and four special sessions, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Gov. Greg Abbott has since been hitting the primary campaign trail, endorsing candidates who are challenging House Republicans who voted to remove a school choice plank from an education spending bill. A longstanding supporter of school choice, which he previously called a “civil rights issue,” Abbott had made enacting the policy a key priority of his administration in 2023.

Polling indicates that there is broad support for some kind of school choice legislation across most demographics in Texas. The sentiment may be partly due to the poor student achievement outcomes coming out of many public school systems in the state.

Dallas ISD, for instance, underperformed across several metrics, according to its latest accountability from the Texas Education Agency. Only 41% of students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams despite the hard work of the district’s dedicated teachers, and almost 20% of the district’s graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a diploma in four years.

It remains to be seen whether Abbott’s efforts to shore up the number of pro-school choice Republicans in the Texas House will prevail.

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