School Choice States Open Doors of Opportunity for Generations of Children

By Kathryn Hickok

Three states recently expanded education options for K-12 students through school choice laws. States that are empowering families to find the right fit for their children’s educational needs are opening doors of opportunity for generations of students.

In May, Nebraska passed the Opportunity Scholarship Act. The tax credit-funded program provides opportunities for children to attend private schools chosen by their parents. The average scholarship amount is capped at 75% of state per-pupil funding (approximately $9,200).

Oklahoma passed a historic education package including tax credits for families with school-aged children to offset private school tuition or homeschooling costs, pay increases for teachers, and funding for rural and charter schools.

In June, Wisconsin increased the per-pupil funding for its existing school choice programs. Participating families will qualify for up to $9,500 for elementary and middle school tuition and $12,000 for high school. Funding for charter school students and the Special Needs Scholarship Program also increased. This bill expands Wisconsin’s school choice funding by almost $300 million, the largest increase in state history.

This year, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Florida, and Indiana passed or expanded universal or near-universal school choice laws, joining West Virginia and Arizona. The school choice states provide Oregon with legislative models we can follow. Oregon needs to give students viable alternatives to zoned district schools that may not serve them well, so every child has a chance to succeed.

Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization, and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program.

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