May 22, 2006


School Choice Expanding in Three States (Karla Dial, May 1, 2006, The Heartland Institute)

Three states either created new school choice programs or expanded existing ones in late March--a trend suggesting the movement is gaining wider support among legislators.

In Ohio and Utah, lawmakers gave more students access to school choice.

Ohio's EdChoice program--which had given students attending schools rated for three consecutive years as being in "academic emergency" the option of transferring to better-performing schools of their choosing--now gives students in schools on "academic watch"--the second-lowest rating--the same option. Some 50,000 students are expected to participate, an increase of 30,000.

In Utah, the Carson Smith Scholarship Program for autistic students was widened to include more schools, and the legislature removed a requirement that private schools must "specialize" in serving special-needs populations in order to participate.

On March 29, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) allowed a corporate tax credit program to become law without her signature, ending a year-long battle with legislators, during which she twice reneged on her promise to sign the measure into law.

"Our legislature just held the line," said Vicki Murray, an independent education researcher in Scottsdale and former education policy director for the Goldwater Institute, a public policy think tank in Phoenix. "The governor gave her word last year that she would sign this, and she didn't, but our legislators just wouldn't back down. They knew there was a desperate need for more choices. Children need it, parents want it, and it's good policy. A lot of state [legislatures] would have said, 'We have a governor who is philosophically opposed to school choice, so we can't get anything done,' but ours said, 'No, this is the right thing to do.'"

Governor OKs Milwaukee Voucher Expansion (Sean Parnell, May 1, 2006, The Heartland Institute
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) on March 10 signed legislation expanding Milwaukee's innovative school voucher program, averting what some education reformers had termed a "looming crisis" that jeopardized the education gains low-income students have enjoyed under the 16-year-old program.

Doyle, a Democrat, reached a compromise with the state legislature to raise the cap on the total number of students eligible to receive vouchers from approximately 14,500 to 22,500 students. The bill included new accountability measures for schools educating voucher students, as well as increased funding for smaller class sizes in Wisconsin's government schools.

In a March 10 statement, Doyle called the bill a "victory for schools, not just in Milwaukee, but all across the state." The bill was passed largely along party lines in both the General Assembly and the Senate, with most Republicans voting for the bill and most Democrats voting against it. The Democrats who supported the bill mostly represented Milwaukee districts, where many low-income students use vouchers to attend private schools.

Democrats care about union sinecures, not black kids.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2006 3:18 PM
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