Goldwater Institute Releases Model “School Choice Catalog”

| March 13 2013

From tax-credits to fund tuition scholarships to charter schools to the revolutionary education savings account program, Arizona is the national leader in school choice; the state has a broader range of school options than anywhere else in the country.

Unfortunately, many families simply don’t know how to take advantage of these opportunities. 87,000 Arizona children, or almost ten percent, are languishing in failing schools. It is clear that more needs to be done to increase the involvement of parents in choosing the best education option for their children.

One way to do that is to ensure that the Arizona Department of Education informs parents about the programs at their fingertips. Today, the Goldwater Institute released A Parent’s Guide to School Choice: Education Options for Arizona Families, which provides a comprehensive guide to Arizona families of all the school choice programs available to them, including other families’ experiences and how to apply.

The release comes in the wake of a legislative push to mandate an annual catalog of this kind. Earlier this session, Senator Kelli Ward introduced legislation (SB1285) that would have required the Department of Education to produce and mail a school choice guide to all families with school-aged children. Opponents of the bill cited cost concerns, but the Goldwater Institute’s own Parent’s Guide to School Choice was produced for $1 per-unit, and the Institute estimates that the Department of Education could produce and mail a similar brochure for less than $1 million annually.

Moreover, this could be done with no additional cost to the general fund. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, Arizona receives almost $350 million every year to help children succeed through services like tutoring and increasing parent engagement (the funding source is known as Title I). The department’s production of an annually mailed school choice catalog would qualify for this funding as an effort to increase parent engagement in children’s education.

“School choice gives every child the chance to succeed, and it also saves Arizona money.” said Goldwater Institute Education Director Jonathan Butcher. “Informing parents that they have great options is a no-brainer to help Arizona families.”

The Goldwater Institute will continue to support Senator Ward in advocating for a state-mandated annual catalog to inform Arizona families of the wide range of school options available to them.

To view a digital copy of the Goldwater Institute’s model school choice catalog, please visit http://goldwaterinstitute.org/schoolchoicecatalog.

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