5 myths about school choice debunked

5 myths about school choice debunked

Despite the misinformation, Michigan’s kids would benefit from school choice

With the topic of school choice at the forefront in Michigan, many myths have come into circulation. It can be difficult to assess what is or isn’t true.

Here are 5 common myths about school choice – and the truth about them.

1. MYTH: School choice is ineffective

Some opponents of school choice say that more opportunity will not lead to better educational outcomes. While some short-term studies show an adjustment period for students, those focusing on the long term show that choice programs improve student performance. Out of 17 random assignment studies, 11 found school choice having a positive effect on program participant test scores, compared to four that had neutral effect.

Choice also means that schools will begin to compete for students by raising the bar.  20 out of 21 random assignment studies showed that school choice programs led to improved outcomes for district schools.

2. MYTH: School choice hurts teachers and students who stay in district schools

Parents who choose to keep students in their current districts schools can rest assured that the funds for that student – and, in some cases, additional funds – remain in that school. Additionally, resources and staff do not decrease based on student enrollment, successfully allocating the same or more resources to fewer students.

3. MYTH: School choice increases educational inequality

A common myth about school choice is that it will benefit students with economic advantages while leaving low-income students behind. School choice actually creates more diverse schools that overcome the barriers of location-based segregation. School choice gives students born into low-performing school districts the opportunity to attend higher-performing schools. A random assignment study conducted by the Department of Education found that a DC school choice program increased the chances of students reaching graduation, with 91% of students in the program graduating compared to 70% of students whose applications to the program were not successful.

4. MYTH: School choice ignores special needs students

School choice is specifically designed to cater to the special needs of every individual. By transferring educational choice to the parents, the people who know their child best can make the best decision based on what each program has to offer.

Parents can find schools and programs that provide tutoring, occupational, behavioral and speech therapies and even mental health services. Some school choice programs are even created specifically for special needs. One study of Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program found that 89% of special-needs students who were utilizing the scholarships to enroll in schools that were better suited to their needs re-enrolled the following year.

5. MYTH: School choice means private schools

The whole point of school choice is just that – choice. Private schools are one option among many. Charter schools, magnet schools, open enrollment, homeschooling and learning pods are all examples of the sort of options parents have under school choice programs – along with the option to leave their children in their current district school. Even then, students can benefit from school choice programs that allow parents funds for extra tutoring or other customized learning needs.

Now that you’re armed with the truth about school choice, get ready to bust myths when you hear them! Every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed.

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