What is the Choice Scholarship Program?
The choice scholarship program. also known as school vouchers, will give parents the opportunity to select the school where their child will best fit. The proposed program provides parents in the district up to 75% of the per pupil revenue in the form of an option certificate to use at a qualifying private school. Additionally, the option certificate program completes the package of choice in Douglas County, which was the first in Colorado to offer school choice and continues to provide many education options for families.
How much does each family receive?
The Douglas County School District leadership is currently working on the details of the various school choice improvement programs, so the exact figure has yet to be determined. However, the proposed choice scholarship program could provide each eligible student up to 75% of the PPR, or the amount of tuition of the chosen private school, which ever is less.
How will a Choice Scholarship Program benefit Douglas County families?
The choice scholarship program puts parents back in the driver’s seat of their child’s education. No one can better decide what school will provide the best education for a child than their parents. The program also allows parents to use their student’s PPR to educate their child in the school that best fits their individual needs and goals.
How will the Choice Scholarship Program affect the Douglas County School District?
The choice scholarship program will actually benefit the entire school district. Under the proposed program, the district could receive 25 percent of each participating student’s PPR, which is revenue for a child they don’t have to educate – increasing funds available to students remaining in the district. That will save the state and the district money since the cost of a voucher for a participating child is less than what would have been spent on a public school education. Also, the choice scholarship program will create more choice and with choice comes competition, which will encourage all schools in the county to improve.
Douglas County Schools are not struggling, why do we need an Choice Scholarship Program?
It’s the right thing to do for students and it makes financial sense. While Douglas County Schools are above-average compared with many other Colorado school districts, education is not one-size-fits-all and parents should have the opportunity to select a school based on their child’s individual needs and goals. The choice scholarship program expands choice in Douglas County and ensures all options are available to parents as they decide what school is best for their child. Allowing for more choice will also encourage competition and improvements at all schools. Additionally, if Douglas County parents want their children to be competitive internationally, instituting choice scholarships is a must. Many of the nations with the highest performing students have strong school choice platforms and established option certificate programs. In fact, of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s top 15 countries by education performance, several, such as the Netherlands (number 10) and Belgium (number 11), feature school choice as a prominent component of their education systems. The United States is number 17 on the OECD list.
Doesn’t a Choice Scholarship Program only help wealthy parents whose children already attend private schools?
The choice scholarship program is expected to help all families regardless of income, including families with a child that would be best served attending a private school, but who could not afford to do so without the program. The choice scholarship would be the first step in removing financial barriers from being a reason why a child cannot attend the school of their choice that best fits their educational needs.
Isn’t using public funds for tuition at religious schools unconstitutional?
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Colorado Supreme Court have found choice scholarship programs to be constitutional. A 2002 case in Cleveland determined that as long as public funds were being distributed to and used by an individual it does not violate the First Amendment. Choice scholarship simply allow parents to use their student’s PPR to educate their child at the institution that is the best fit for their educational needs, which can include faith-based schools. Vermont and Maine have had publicly funded non-public education nearly since the inception of public school systems.