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The week in school choice: A model for the nation?

So much pre-confirmation talk about Betsy DeVos focused on her home state of Michigan.

As education secretary, she’s pointing to a different state — arguably her second home — as a model for the nation.

“Florida is a good and growing example of what can happen when you have a robust array of choices,” DeVos said Wednesday. She noted that 40 percent of the students in Florida go to schools that are different from the one they may be zoned for.

We break down that 40 percent number here.

As she settles into her new role, the new secretary wants to clarify her intentions.

I need to stress that I could not be more supportive of great teachers and great teaching, no matter what kind of delivery vehicle they are teaching through. We have to support great teachers. They just have to be freed-up to do what they do best. I think in many cases they are limited by the top-down, one size fits all approaches, either at the school level, the district level, the state level, or in all too many cases, the federal decree.

DeVos may have made a rhetorical misstep after her widely publicized visit to a D.C. public school. Her critics cast comments intended to suggest education bureaucracy saps teachers’ initiative as an affront to teachers themselves.

She’s preparing for school visits alongside Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers. Here’s what she wishes she’d said in her confirmation hearing.

And still, the din of hyperbole grows louder.

The real action for the school choice movement is in the states

With that in mind…

Washington State charters survive (another) constitutional challenge.

Arizona is on its way to creating a completely universal educational choice program!

Virginia lawmakers have plans revamp their state’s charter school laws, which currently rank among the nation’s worst.

Florida’s education savings accounts could triple in size. Indiana lawmakers are considering a similar program, but the bill suffered a setback.

The time appears ripe for school choice expansion in Missouri.

Alabama’s tax credit program could soon have a broader revenue base.

Education Week has a roundup of other states to watch. We’ve got your weekly rundown of legislative action in Florida.


Money does matter in education. But structural reform may matter more.

President Jimmy Carter and school vouchers.

The Catholic school renaissance comes to Philly.

Now, as the national political winds howl in the direction of school choice, a movement once bent on preserving civic institutions might become something more: a vehicle for growth. Five years after one of its darkest days, could Catholic education make a comeback in the city of Philadelphia?

Understanding the fiscal benefits of private school choice.

Understanding how means-tested vouchers help reduce segregation.

Understanding the impact of school vouchers on religious activity in church parishes.

More negative results from virtual charter schools.

More low-income Florida families turn to private schools.

An unprecedented charter school turnaround is coming to rural North Florida.

When top charter school networks look at Florida, what do they see?

Pushback of the Week

Opponents of a bill to make Arizona’s education savings accounts totally universal cite questionable budget math to argue the program would be a drain on state coffers (and by extension, public education).

Our public schools get about $4,200 per pupil in state aid. Vouchers cost the state $5,200 per child. So ESAs could cost the state general fund an additional $1,000 for every child who leaves a public school for a private or religious school.

Saving school districts on expenses covered by local and federal funding would still help their bottom line — especially in fast-growing areas where districts may be struggling to build schools fast enough to house all the new students. That’s certainly an issue in parts of Arizona.

But there’s a second issue that arises as private school choice programs become more generous and are made available to families higher on the income scale. Increasingly, they’re likely to serve families who didn’t previously send their children to public schools, meaning states won’t automatically save money when families accept scholarships.

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 to tpillow[at]sufs[dot]org.

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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)