Next steps logo

The week in school choice: Now it’s personalized

Facing tricky political calculus, Nevada’s governor is convening state lawmakers for a special session that won’t address the funding issue at the heart of a state Supreme Court ruling that blocked one of the nation’s most ambitious educational choice programs.

A funding fix may now have to wait until next year’s regular legislative session, but some advocates aren’t giving up.

Does the Nevada ruling suggest ESAs are on stronger constitutional ground than conventional vouchers? Perhaps.

Both research and legal precedent demonstrate that the ability to direct ESA funds to multiple education services and products separates ESAs from school vouchers. This is a critical distinction for states to recognize when considering parental choice options. Blaine amendments to state constitutions, such as the provisions in the Arizona and Nevada constitutions, have an ignoble history and should be repealed. Moreover, the distinctive policy design of ESAs makes the accounts well-positioned to withstand legal challenges based on Blaine amendments.


Districts are leading Florida’s foray into personalized learning. They could probably use some support along the way.

Principals and teachers trying to personalize their students’ learning are charged with radically reimagining the classroom. It’s a tall order that requires educators to take risks, move outside their comfort zones, and essentially overhaul much of their jobs. What we’re seeing in the schools we’ve visited for this project makes clear that this work shouldn’t—and often can’t—be done alone.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here’s what’s at stake in the debate over Massachusetts’ charter school referendum:

So, the question is, should voters statewide limit the educational choices of parents in low-income, urban communities? And, if so, on what basis might they do so? For instance, is there any evidence that parents are being misled, that charter schools are actually diminishing rather than improving their children’s achievement? Is there any evidence that charter schools are discriminating against English language learners or special education students? Are charter schools really undercutting district schools financially?

The debate mirrors the left’s larger divide over school choice and education reform.

In a ruling that will soon be appealed, a judge found children in the Bay State don’t have a constitutional right to charter schools, or to choose the “flavor” of education that suits them.


A church’s quest for playground funding is on the U.S. Supreme Court docket this term. The case could have big implications for school choice. Also on the docket? Cases dealing with children’s right to special education services.

Introducing the term “fakequity.”

It’s a genius bit of shorthand. It means to talk about racial or socioeconomic equity–to study it, appoint task forces, tweak the nomenclature—without actually disrupting the way that power and its corollary, money, accrues.

Charter school teachers vote to join an impending Chicago teachers’ strike.

Are charter schools getting their mojo back?

What will it take to build a culture of learning in America?

Teachers unions oppose for-profit schooling even in profoundly corrupt countries.

Cities are not the same thing as school districts. Especially under the new definition of public education.

An audit raises questions about charter schools’ independence from management companies.

Quotes of the Week

Parents pay school taxes. They pay school taxes, every single penny, and then they pay tuition and they don’t utilize what their taxes bought. They’re paying tuition. I truly believe, if we are going to be a free country, there has to be freedom of choice in education.

– Sister Carol Cimino, superintendent of the Diocese of Buffalo, on the need for private school choice in New York.

There’s amnesia about the work that African-Americans have been doing for a century and a half to create [educational] institutions that address inequality that has been systemic for centuries.

– United Negro College Fund CEO Michael Lomax, speaking to National Public Radio on the debate over charter schools spurred by the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.

Tweet of the Week

The Week in School Choice is our weekly compendium of news and notes from around the country. Sign up here to get it in your inbox, and send links, tips, pushback or feedback totpillow[at]sufs[dot]org.

Avatar photo

BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at)