Frequently Asked Questions about School Choice

What does school choice mean?

School choice means empowering parents to choose the school that best fits their child’s individual needs and goals. School choice also means more educational opportunity as it creates competition which will drive improvement at all schools in the district. Douglas County is an established school reform leader in the state. The county was one of the pioneering school districts in Colorado to offer charter schools and now has the opportunity to put the final school choice wedge in place with the Option Certificate Program.

Douglas County is a leader in school choice, what other options currently exist?

Douglas County was one of the first to offer charter schools in Colorado and has continued to increase the opportunities parents have to find the best educational fit for their child. In addition to charter schools, there are options for: home school, online school, contract schools, open enrollment and personality-based neighborhood schools. The choice scholarship program, also known as school vouchers, will simply be another part of the overall choice package in Douglas County. The Choice Task Forces recently noted other improvements to the choice package that the District could make available to its families. Many of these recommendations have been put in place, and others are being analyzed. Douglas County continues to lead as it offers its parents and students more opportunities to select the school best suited to their individual needs.

If we give parents a choice, won’t there be a “brain drain” in the public school system in which all the best students leave for private schools?

School choice and choice scholarships are about finding the best educational fit for a child. Parents with students who are satisfied at their current school will likely not choose to switch. Providing choice, however, will give students who struggle in their current educational setting a chance to achieve success.

Do school choice programs really work?

Many studies have reported increased academic success in districts with school choice programs; however, it would be unfair to say one school setting is better than the other for all students. Instead, school choice gives parents the opportunity to make the decision about what school is best for their individual child. Research shows that when a parent chooses their children’s school, they tend to be more satisfied and involved. Douglas County is known for a highly involved parent community. Recent surveys show 90% of parents are satisfied with their current school of choice-including their neighborhood schools. Choice scholarships would make more options available for the families who are still seeking a more suitable program for their children.

Doesn’t school choice hurt the local school district?

Expanding school choice will benefit the Douglas County School District because for every student enrolled in the option certificate program, the district could receive 25 percent of their PPR – revenue for a child they don’t have to educate, which also increases funds available to students remaining in the district. School choice, and increasing its access through the choice scholarship program, will increase competition and drive improvement at all schools. In addition, it helps with potential overcrowding as new students move into the system.

What impact does school choice have on academic performance?

Studies have shown that school choice improves students’ academic performance. No one knows better than a parent what school will provide the best education for their child and school choice puts the power back in their hands. Furthermore, increased school choice will create more internationally-competitive students in Douglas County, since established school choice and choice scholarship programs are part of many of the nations that rank highly in international student assessments. Choice also improves the performance of students who are in the public school system since class sizes are smaller and children receive more attention from their teachers.