BRIEF: School Choice in the States November 2013

Colorado – Robbie Rhinesmith @rrhinesmith85

The most-watched education election occurred in Colorado, where four of the seven Douglas County school board seats – home to the nation’s only district-enacted private school voucher program – were up for grabs. School choice supporters won all four races, signaling that voters in Douglas County understand a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, even in one of the best public school systems in the state. The day after the election, the Friedman Foundation interviewed Douglas County’s school board president who attributed the school board’s interest in education reform to Milton Friedman.

Statewide, voters also rejected Amendment 66, which would have increased state income taxes to raise $1 billion for the public school system.

Kansas Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Friedman Foundation’s Jeff Spalding, director of fiscal policy and analysis, and Dr. Ben Scafidi, professor of economics and director of the Economics of Education Policy Center at Georgia College & State University, presented research on Kansas’ and other states’ school funding formulas to the Interim Study Committee. A lobbyist for the Wichita School District called Mr. Spalding’s presentation “very informative.” Dr. Scafidi spoke on the national, state, and district-wide staffing surge. His work showed the massive spending increases associated with the growth of administration and offered alternatives to how that increase could have been used.

Louisiana – Robbie Rhinesmith @rrhinesmith85

On November 22, a federal judge agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s contention that it has the right under a decades-old desegregation order to require Louisiana to submit all voucher applicants to the Department for preclearance. However, the judge also emphasized that any process could not overly burden the program. Both sides now have 60 days to submit proposals for a review process to the court.

New York – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn

More than 5,000 people rallied in support of New York’s proposed Education Investment Tax Credit bill November 19. A key component of the bill allows corporations and individuals to receive a credit against their tax liability for donations to educational scholarship organizations that provide students with scholarships to attend a qualified public or private schools.

Tennessee – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn

The Friedman Foundation hosted a group of Tennessee state legislators for a School Choice Fact-Finding trip in Indianapolis. The trip included a tour of private schools that accept students who use vouchers. Tennessee lawmakers also met with Indiana state legislators, school leaders, and business leaders to discuss the impact of the voucher program on state and local communities.

Washington, D.C. – Robbie Rhinesmith @rrhinesmith85

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a highly critical report of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation’s administration and the U.S. Department of Education’s oversight of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. In particular, the GAO recommended the Trust adopt policies and procedures that ensure participating schools are complying with eligibility requirements.