Why 2023 Is the “Year of Universal School Choice”

By Kathryn Hickok

Nationwide polling this year revealed seventy-one percent of voters say parents should “have the right to use tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs.” State policymakers should note it’s increasingly important to families to match their children’s educational needs with school environments that serve them best.

Oregon should expand students’ education options, and many ways exist to achieve that successfully. In a December article in Forbes, Michael McShane, Director of National Research at Ed Choice, explains why 2023 should be called “The Year of Universal School Choice”:

“Policymakers in 40 states debated 111 educational choice bills….As the months ticked by, a total of seven states enacted new choice programs and 10 expanded ones already in operation….[E]ight states have joined Arizona and West Virginia in offering all students choice, making 2023 the Year of Universal Choice….[A]pproximately 20 million students—or 36 percent—are now eligible for a private choice program.”

Ten states now have universal or near-universal school choice laws: seven Education Savings Account programs, two voucher programs, and one tax credit program. Each of these approaches empowers parents to choose the best education options for their children. States can learn valuable lessons from each other’s policy approaches as they craft programs that suit the needs of their own families and voters.

Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization, and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program.

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