We support Universal Tuition Tax Credits (UTTC) as the preferred school choice reform. Universal Tuition Tax Credits provide several advantages, among them:
- They empower parents; they do not take government money; they are universal, meaning that have broad appeal to all economic levels, especially lower and middle income families; they create a competitive educational marketplace that fosters school improvement;
- They help poor families through scholarship-granting organizations;
The most common school choice options include:
* School Choice--General
* Universal Tuition Tax Credits
* School Vouchers
* Charter Schools
* Schooling at Home
* Independent Schools
The goals of school choice include improving student outcomes, empowering parents with financial control over how education dollars are spent, making schools responsive to parents' and students' curriculum demands, creating competition among schools, expanding the range of education options, relating education spending to measurable results, freeing administrators and teachers to innovate, and reducing the burden of public capital expenditures to keep up with population growth. There are a variety of school choice plans that address these goals.
Universal Tuition Tax Credits
Universal Tuition Tax Credits, called UTTC for short, is a system by which parents pay the school their son or daughter attends and, in turn, school tuition is deducted from the state income taxes of the parents making the payment. The result: students who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend a school other than the one located within their district are given that opportunity because of the UTTC-based system. UTTC, unlike school vouchers, would not allow state funds to support religious schools, drain any funding from public schools, or spawn new entitlements in private schools. Instead, Universal Tuition Tax Credits will take less than 10 percent of students in public schools and aid them in migration to private or home schools—the schools that they or their parents want them to attend. This system saves state and local governments large sums of money while also providing a quality education to students in a setting of their choice. Students and parents alike are thereby empowered to take a proactive role in the education process. It isn’t only the UTTC recipients and their families who benefit, however. Public school students benefit, too, via smaller class sizes, higher per pupil spending, and increased teacher competition. Parents of UTTC enrollees would receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income tax liability for every dollar spent on tuition. Money from the tax credit could simply be claimed against state tax liability. Deductions could include books, supplies, computers, tutors, tuition, and transportation. In the end, parents and students—public, private, and alternative alike—win with a UTTC system. When school choice is made more accessible to parents and students, the quality of education, the ability to take personal responsibility, and the availability of quality schools for all social classes climbs dramatically.
In a school voucher system, all designated students would receive vouchers for a specified amount of money good at any school—public, private, or alternative. The school admitting the student would then redeem the voucher for payment. Depending upon the amount of the voucher, the students’ tuition bill would be partially or fully paid by the local or state government.
Universal vouchers would allow all parents to direct funds set aside for education by the government to send their children to a school of choice, whether that school is public, private or religious, separates the government financing of education from the government operation of schools. Means-tested vouchers enable income-eligible families, usually in limited numbers, to direct funds set aside for education by the government to pay for tuition at the public, private or religious school of their choice.
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are granted a high degree of autonomy from existing rules and regulations. Depending upon state law, teachers, parents, or other would-be educators can apply for permission to open a school. The "charter" may be granted by, for example, the local school board, the state board of education, or a public institution of higher education, depending upon the state. Some states also allow existing public or nonsectarian private schools to convert to charter status. Charter schools have the potential to control their own budget, staffing and curriculum, but their autonomy varies from state to state. They must attract students and achieve the results agreed to in their charters, or their contracts can be revoked.
Charter schools are semi-autonomous public schools, founded by educators, parents, community groups or private organizations that operate under a written contract with a state, district or other entity. This contract, or charter, details how the school will be organized and managed, what students will be taught and expected to achieve, and how success will be measured. Many charter schools enjoy freedom from rules and regulations affecting other public schools, as long as they continue to meet terms of their charters. Charter schools can be closed for failing to satisfy these terms.
Schooling at Home
Each fall when school begins, a growing number of school-aged children do not head off to a classroom. Instead, they learn at home with their families or with other children in their communities. Homeschooling takes many forms, from a daily routine following a scheduled curriculum to child-led learning in which parents supervise and help. Many families choose homeschooling for the academic, social, moral and religious advantages it offers; for others, the children's health and safety are determining factors. Most families cite a combination of these reasons to explain why they homeschool their children. Homeschooling has many advantages to the alternatives; it allows strong bonds between families to flourish, provides the necessary training in life skills, and offers a degree of safety that no public school can. Moreover, parents know their own children better than any other teacher or mentor, and therefore they can adjust to their students’ needs most appropriately. For parents who object to the content being taught in public schools, homeschooling can be the perfect solution.
Independent schools, unlike other schools, are not administered by any level of government and funded by charging their students tuition rather than accepting public funds. Independent schools generally select their own students. The independent sector is div