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What is School Choice?

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School choice is a term that represents the many ways students access their K–12 education. Many still choose their schools by buying a home in their desired district, but today’s parents engage in school choice in more diverse and ever-evolving ways. Advocates use the term “school choice” to refer to programs and policies that let families use public money to access schools beyond their local option, including private schools1.

School Choice Around the World

School choice is not only a US phenomenon. It is also common in many other countries around the world, including:

Europe: Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England, Northern Ireland, and Ireland all have some form of school choice. In some cases, public funding follows students to private schools. In other cases, parents are given vouchers or tax credits that they can use to help pay for private school tuition.

Asia: Chile, India, and Pakistan all have school choice programs. In Chile, for example, the government provides vouchers to parents that can be used to pay for private school tuition.

South America: Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay all have school choice programs. In Colombia, for example, the government provides scholarships to low-income families that can be used to pay for private school tuition.

Of course, there are also some challenges associated with school choice. For example, school choice can lead to segregation of students by race and socioeconomic status. Additionally, some critics argue that school choice can drain funding from public schools.

  1. What School Choice Is and How it Works | K-12 Schools | U.S. News (usnews.com) ↩︎

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