School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children's education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home.
School choice also protects parents' constitutional rights to direct their children's upbringing in accordance with the values, principles and religious convictions they hold dear.
The school choice movement is gathering steam because of one simple fact: Public education is one of the most unproductive and underperforming sectors in America. Since 1970, spending on public schools (per student, in inflation-adjusted terms) has more than doubled. Over the same period, students' combined math and reading scores have been flat, and the U.S. has fallen behind most other industrial nations on standardized tests.
Educational productivity can be measured as the "output" of educational achievement for each inflation-adjusted dollar spent per student, and by this measure, the productivity of American public schools has fallen by 50% since 1970. A dollar invested in public schools in the U.K., Ireland and New Zealand now yields nearly twice the educational achievement as the same dollar spent in U.S. public schools.
These results cannot be explained by the efforts made to educate the disadvantaged, or by "exit exams" that reduce the pool of high school graduates in some countries. America's public schools clearly need to be improved but, in spite of receiving a massive increase in resources, have consistently failed to do so. Given this dismal performance, the current calls for fundamental educational reform are natural, healthy and long overdue.
The school choice movement has answered this call by taking the factors that promote innovation elsewhere — decentralized decision-making, appropriately structured...