A record 255,000 students using private school choice (vouchers and tax-credit scholarships) to attend private school is up 20% over last year.

This is according to a new publication released January 23, 2013 by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “The ABCs of School Choice” details each of the 39 private school choice programs operating in 21 states and Washington, D.C.

The private school choice idea was first proposed by the late Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics who said parents should be able to spend a portion of their children’s public education funding on private school tuition using vouchers. Today there are 18 voucher programs serving 104,000 students in 12 states and Washington, D.C.

“Milton Friedman’s idea is taking hold in new states every year,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation, said. “State leaders are seeing that families want and need private school choice opportunities.”

Beyond vouchers, other private school choice programs include tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and individual tax credits and deductions. Tax-credit scholarships, available in 11 states, allow taxpayers to receive tax credits for donations they make to scholarship-giving nonprofits; 14 such programs are aiding 151,000 students. 

Education savings accounts, a one-of-a-kind program in Arizona, allow K-12 education funds to be spent on a variety of schooling services, including private tutors; that program is being used by 362 students with special needs. And in six states, individual tax credit and deduction programs provide tax relief to 847,000 taxpayers who choose private options for their children. 

Many of those private school choice programs limit eligibility to children who come from lower-income families, or those who have special needs. For example, Indiana’s school voucher program—which makes 530,000 students eligible statewide—is available to children from low- and middle-income backgrounds. Jeronna and her son, Jaevion, are one of the 9,324 Indiana families who use that program.

“There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Jaevion is exactly where he needs to be in order to thrive,” Jeronna said. “(And) it’s all because of the voucher program.”

Along with those personal stories, “The ABCs of School Choice” guide provides each program’s most recent participation numbers, funding levels, eligibility requirements, and historical usage rates. Also, “The ABCs of School Choice” offers “Friedman Feedback” on ways states can expand each program to eventually fund all children, as envisioned by Milton Friedman.

“A far more effective and equitable way for government to finance education is to finance students, not schools,” wrote Friedman. “Assign a specified sum of money to each child and let him or her and his or her parents choose the school that they believe best….”

Request copies or download the PDF of “The ABCs of School Choice.”

About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the Foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to choice and competition in K-12 education.

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