With six new programs, 2011 was the year of school choice. A decade later, 2021 became the year of educational choice.
Seven states enacted seven new programs, with Kentucky and Missouri even creating a new program type: the tax-credit education savings account (ESA). A whopping 15 states expanded 23 programs to serve more students than ever before. It’s hard to keep up with the growth.
The difference 10 years later? The movement for educational liberty is not about schools anymore. It’s about learning opportunities. K–12 education is no longer defined by an outdated, idyllic image of a student sitting at a desk in a brick-and-mortar school. Now, families are deciding what education can and should look like for their children—whatever educational providers or whatever settings meet their unique needs.
As our legacy’s founder and Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman said, “Not all ‘schooling’ is ‘education,’ and not all ‘education’ is ‘schooling.’”
Regardless of the “why,” parents are seeing firsthand what Friedman meant. The COVID-19 pandemic has had—and continues to have—an obvious effect on parent engagement in their children’s education.
Entire districts shut down, sending students home to learn remotely. Then schools reopened and then they shut yet again, resulting in a shift in families’ mindset around education. According to our EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker polling with Morning Consult, seven out of 10 school parents want the education system to provide multiple learning options. Month after month, around 60 percent of American school parents report their desire for a hybrid schooling approach. More than one-third prefer their kids learn from home most of the time—three to five days per week.
The EdChoice team works tirelessly to monitor and measure these major changes to the K–12 education landscape. The ABCs of School Choice is the most comprehensive, reliable and cited guide to the nation’s educational choice programs. As always, you can find more information on our website, which is updated with new data throughout the year. And you may even order additional free copies of The ABCs and our companion publications— EdChoice 101 and The EdChoice Study Guide.
Because of our work to stay on top of legislative opportunities across the country, our experts were able to accurately predict the boom in 2021 programs. Typically, election years see less progress than non-election years, but we think 2022 may be the year that bucks the trend.
Will our prediction come true? Subscribe to our email newsletters at the bottom of this page or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok to stay up to date on all the latest school choice news.