In many sectors, a year-plus that halted social and economic trajectories was an impetus for reevaluation and served to accelerate trends already in motion. Campaigns intended to open broader educational options to a larger spectrum of children were no exception and, as parents around the country struggled with limited options for their public school students, a wave of legislation that launched and expanded school-choice programs swelled through the year.
The past 10 years have seen a steady ascent for the movement, with results mostly felt in Republican-controlled states, but the 2020-2021 legislative year set records for aggregate gains. Seven states introduced new programs, and 14 expanded 21 existing ones. The new laws run the gamut including tax-credit scholarship, vouchers and Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs), as well as lifting caps on charter schools.
“This year we not only saw more bills passed than ever before, we saw ones that were bigger in terms of eligibility and bolder in terms of the degree of freedom that some of them give parents in directing their children’s education,” said Jason Bedrick, Director of Policy at EdChoice, a national leading school-choice advocacy organization. “Obviously, the pandemic had a large role to play in moving this along, but an important piece is not only in statehouses. Over the pandemic, we’ve seen the highest levels of support for school choice in public opinion yet.”