Critics of school choice have long contended that policies that increase private, charter or home school enrollment will siphon public students and ultimately dollars from the public schools.
It was an argument opponents successfully made against a bill (HB 1104) to grant tax credits to corporations who make contributions to scholarship granting organizations. Commenting on the legislation in his blog, Chairman of the State Board of Education, Dr. William Harrison said:
Our public schools are suffering under another round of significant budget cuts and more are scheduled for the upcoming school year. Many local school superintendents have reported that they no longer have enough resources to support quality teaching and learning in schools that serve nearly 1.5 million children in our state. That is why it is so deeply troubling to me that lawmakers would spend time drafting a bill that would divert more critical dollars away from public school classrooms to support private schools that only serve a fraction of students.
Has school choice worked to significantly change enrollment patterns in public, private, charter and home schools? My friend Dr. Terry Stoops, Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation, addresses that question head on in a new study Educational Market Share. Stoops analyzed changes in private school, charter school and home school enrollment in all states from the period 2001—10. Did expanded choice options bring shifts in educational market share?
Private, charter and home schools continue to be popular in many states, including North Carolina. This popularity, however, has not produced a significant shift from district schools to schools of choice – private, charter or home schools. North Carolina and nine other states had a net increase in the percentage of students attending a school of choice between 2001 and 2010, but statewide market share increases were trivial.
School choice critics need to stop the fear mongering. The claims are false and divert attention from the true goal of school choice programs: giving parents the opportunity to choose the best school for the child – public, private, charter or home school.