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A Survey of parental rights and responsibilities in school choice laws.

MAY 2016

Executive Summary

School choice is an important social movement. Between 1990 and 2015, lawmakers in 45 states and the District of Columbia enacted a range of public and private school choice laws to meet parents' demand for greater options. Lawmakers continued their support for school choice laws in 2016. For example, Maryland lawmakers enacted the first private school choice law for low-income families and students. In Washington state, the legislature approved a new charter school law to address deficiencies that led the state supreme court to conclude that the former law was unconstitutional in September 2015.

More choice laws are expected to come in 2016 and beyond. Why? To empower parents with new educational options for their children.

To gain a better understanding of how school choice laws address parents, I analyzed the number of times "parent" is mentioned in 102 choice laws: this includes 43 charter school laws, 25 voucher laws, 20 tax-credit laws, 9 tax-deduction laws, and 5 ESA laws. I then surveyed 20 laws--three to five per school choice category--to see how many times the term "parent" is mentioned and to determine how choice laws empower parents and how rights and responsibilities play out in the real world. Every time "parent" was mentioned in a law, I examined it in the context in which it was mentioned and categorized it into one of four categories: legal, window-dressing, rights, and responsibilities.

A reader might assume that the number of times "parent" is mentioned in a choice law alone signals its intention to empower parents with rights and responsibilities for their child's education. I found that this was not necessarily so. Results from an analysis of 20 school choice laws highlighted in this study indicate that they have fallen far short of what is necessary for creating schools that foster true parental empowerment. For example:

* More than 60 percent of "parent" mentions in four charter, voucher, and tax-credits laws highlighted in this study are not about rights and responsibilities.

* More than 70 percent of "parent" mentions in three tax-deduction and five ESA laws are not about rights and responsibilities.

* Parental rights appear more often in 4 charter and vouchers laws than in the remaining 12 choice laws.

* Parental responsibilities appear more frequently in 4 voucher and tax-credit laws than in the remaining 12 choice laws.

* Legal and window-dressing references serve as the norm in 20 choice laws.

After analyzing results from 20 choice laws in particular, and reviewing 82 other choice laws in general, I conclude that regrettably, existing choice laws demonstrate that parental rights and responsibilities in education statutes are little more than a dull roar.

Expanding and reforming choice laws in light of this research requires us to be mindful about bridging the gap between rights and responsibilities as we seek to empower parents. In fact, carefully crafted school choice policies must maintain a healthy number of "parent" mentions, but these mentions should be more than merely window-dressing. State legislatures and school reformers must also do more than sprinkle statutes with legal jargon and feel-good phrases related to parents. If states want school choice to truly work, they must have a critical eye for how laws treat parents, how they invite them into the lifelong process of a child's schooling, and how they call equal attention to both rights and responsibilities.

Parents are responsible for raising their children, yet they rely on the state to educate them. The tension of rights and responsibilities between parents and public education dates back to Plato. If government is responsible for creating education laws, what role should it play in overseeing how that education is delivered? What rights must be given to parents? In return, what should government, and society at large, expect from parents? These questions are not new in the debates surrounding schooling in America, but what is new is the role school choice laws play in this dialogue.

School choice is an important social movement. Between 1990 and 2015, lawmakers in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia enacted a range of public and private school choice laws. As of the 2015-16 school year, more than 400,000 students benefit from publicly funded private school programs, although three million scholarship opportunities are available to families based on current laws.

Charter school enrollment accounts for 6 percent of the 50 million public school students in the US, yet one million students remain on charter school waiting lists. Therefore, legislators and reformers are advocating for more school choice laws in state assemblies and on Capitol Hill to meet parents' demand for greater options.

School choice may be picking up speed in legislatures across the country, but even in cities where school choice is firmly established, it still has a long way to go before it fulfills its promise. While the vast majority of school choice programs show positive effects, the results fall far short of the panacea that some advocates promised.

In an attempt to explain why school choice has not lived up to its potential, my colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute have argued that choice by itself is not enough to make a robust market. It is a necessary but insufficient condition for a system in which parents can pick the best school for their children and where schools have the flexibility to expand and adapt. These colleagues have done extensive work on the supply and demand sides of school choice, but it seems policy is really only half of the equation.

In recent years, school choice advocates have begun to put their finger on the other half: the family. Not only can school choice help get a child into a better school, but it can also help empower parents to be thoughtful advocates for their child's education, rather than passive consumers.

Choice advocates increasingly prefer to use the term "parental choice" instead of "school choice" for just that reason. After all, it is not the schools that are choosing. Additionally, making it clear to parents that the purpose of these programs is to give them the choice to control their child's educational destiny is a savvy public relations move.

At the same time, many parents feel like school choice advocates are more interested in changing systems from the top down than empowering mothers and fathers to take their child's education into their own hands. These parents might be onto more than reformers would like to admit. For all the rhetoric, remarkably little attention has been paid to how school choice laws actually address parents. This paper is an attempt to start that conversation.

To fill a gap in our knowledge base on parental choice, I analyzed 5 education savings account (ESA) laws, 25 private school voucher laws, 29 tax scholarship laws (9 tax deductions and 20 tax credits), and 43 public charter school laws. I wanted to see what these laws actually said about parents. How many times were they mentioned, and in what context? What trends do we see, and what conclusions might we be able to make?

Of course, parents are not reading state statutes and deriving their sense of worth from how many times they are mentioned. But the law is a lever with which policymakers can help guide and incentivize a healthy balance in schools between providing parents with rights and asking them to fulfill their responsibilities in return.

The education of a child is not solely parents' responsibility, and parents rely heavily on teachers to educate their children. K-12 education is therefore a shared responsibility--parents should be entitled to certain things, but they are also responsible for many aspects of their child's education.

For example, parental responsibilities include getting children to school, being involved in a child's educational life at home, and encouraging an environment of learning. On the other side, parents should have a right to a courteous teacher and principal and should have access to information that can help them make informed choices. While these ideals sound reasonable, many school choice laws fail to acknowledge this balance.

If legislators and reformers care about creating stronger schools and fostering the conditions for better communities and more engaged parents, they should at least acknowledge these realities in the laws that they fight for each year. Ideally, they should support provisions that help foster a healthy balance in schools of choice.

To make school choice laws more effective, lawmakers should focus on providing tangible and concrete details on what it means for schools to empower parents. They should be concerned with passing and strengthening laws that acknowledge parents' role in education, outline what is expected of them, and offer clear language about what they can expect from schools in return. By addressing how current school choice laws treat parents, this paper hopes to provide a knowledge base for researchers, legislators, and advocates concerned with empowering parents in K-12 education.

Methods

To gain a better understanding on how school choice laws address parents, I analyzed 102 parental choice laws enacted in 45 states and the District of Columbia. (1) The laws include 43 charter school laws, 25 voucher laws, 20 tax-credit laws, 9 tax-deduction laws, and 5 ESA laws.

Although each parental choice law differs by state, in every case, legislators created these laws to allow parents to opt out of sending their child to a district-assigned school, instead providing them the option to pursue an alternative in a public or private school. In total, I identified 1,604 times "parent" is mentioned in a choice law. (2) (See Figure 1 for the average mentions per choice type.)

At first glance, one might assume that the number of times "parent" is mentioned in a choice law alone signals its intention to empower parents with rights and responsibilities for their child's education. For instance, on average, the term "parent" appears more than four times more often in an ESA law than in a tax-credit law. Similarly, voucher laws mention "parent" more frequently on average than charter laws.

Does this mean a tax-credit or charter program is less parent friendly than an ESA or voucher law? Not necessarily. Evaluating the friendliness of any school choice law does not rest on the sheer number of times "parent" appears in it. How a law positions a parent--either as a partner or a bystander--matters a lot more, but counting the number of times "parent" is mentioned in each law provides an entry point for understanding what these laws say, how they empower parents, and where they fall short.

Therefore, I surveyed each program to see how many times the term "parent" is mentioned to determine how choice laws empower parents and how rights and responsibilities play out in the real world. For every time "parent" was mentioned in a law, I examined it in the context in which it was mentioned and categorized it into one of four categories: legal, window-dressing, rights, and responsibilities. This method is not a perfect science, but it helps capture the nature of how "parent" is mentioned in school choice laws across the US. I defined these categories as follows:

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

1. "Legal" refers to instances where the term "parent" appears to define or outline the relationship between the parent and the school choice program. The New Hampshire tax-credit law, for instance, defines a parent as "the natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian of a child." (3) The law entitles New Hampshire parents to a scholarship to pay for private schooling or home-schooling expenses if their household income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty line. This category also applies to instances where laws recognize multiple interpretations of the term "parent," including a court-appointed guardian in the case of the Indiana tax-deduction law.

2. "Window-dressing" refers to instances where the term "parent" appears in an aspirational context but lacks substantive information that specifies a parent's role in his or her child's education. New Mexico's charter school law, for example, vows to "provide parents and students with an educational alternative to create new, innovative and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system." (4) The Illinois charter law expects parents, educators, and community members to use a charter school as a "stimulus to strive for educational excellence." (5) While the mentions cheer on parents, they do not provide any concrete rights or responsibilities as they relate to the choice program.

3. "Rights" refers to instances where the law gives specific power to parents over decisions and procedures that affect their child's education. Rights empower parents with information, access, duties, or programs that help them help their child. For example, in Hawaii, the conversion of a traditional public school into a charter school requires a majority approval by parents, which is a requirement in the majority of the 43 charter school laws. Parents are also afforded rights in private school programs. Mississippi's Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program allows parents to enroll a child in a private school if the local public school is unable to meet the child's needs.

4. "Responsibilities" refers to instances where the law asks parents for something in exchange for receiving the benefits of a choice program. For example, according to Arizona's Lexie's Law, "If the parent requests that the pupil who participates in the scholarship program participate in the statewide tests prescribed by this title, the parent is responsible for transporting the pupil to an assessment site designated by the school district." (6) Other responsibilities include paying for lost textbooks, submitting paperwork annually to keep a child enrolled in a program, and participating in required PTA events.

With these four categories in place, I specifically highlight three to five laws from each school choice category (charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, individual tax credit or deduction, and ESAs). In selecting programs to highlight, I considered geographic diversity, the year the law was enacted, the size of the student population, and diversity of results in the four categories. These are the laws that I further examine in this paper:

* Charter school laws: Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Mississippi

* Voucher laws: Wisconsin, Florida, Utah, and Indiana

* Tax-credit and tax-deduction laws: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Alabama, and Kansas

* Individual tax credit/deduction laws: Indiana, South Carolina, and Alabama

* Education savings account laws: Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Nevada
Charter School Laws
"Charter schools give families an opportunity to pick the school most
suitable for their child's educational well-being. Teachers choose to
create and work at schools where they can directly shape the learning
environment for their students and themselves in innovative ways.
Likewise, charter authorizers choose to sponsor schools that are
likely to best serve the needs of the students in a particular
community."
--Center for Education Reform (7)


The largest and most well-known education reform movement in the US is charter schools. Today, 2.9 million students in 43 states and the District of Columbia attend 6,723 charter schools. (8) There are six authorizer types, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers: local education agencies, higher education institutions, state education agencies, not-for-profit organizations, non-educational government entities, and independent chartering boards. (9)

Research, including a national study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, has shown that charter school students often outperform their peers in math and reading. (10) This is one reason why parents of all backgrounds and races enroll their children in charter schools, particularly lower-income and middle-class parents.

"Parent" appears 657 times in 43 charter laws (Figure 2). So, how do charter school laws address parental rights and responsibilities? I selected four states to answer this question, with an eye to regional and programmatic diversity: Minnesota because it enacted the first charter school law in the US, California because it has the largest number of charter students in the nation, Massachusetts because it has the nation's highest-performing charter school students, and Mississippi because it currently has the newest charter law in the nation.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Minnesota enacted the nation's first charter law in 1991. (11) As of the 2014-15 school year, the state was home to 158 charter schools and 45,322 students. (12)

According to the 2016 National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' (NAPCS) Measuring Up to the Model Report--which uses 20 categories, including fiscal and legal autonomy, authorizer authority, and caps on growth, to evaluate the strength of a law--Minnesota's charter law ranked third in the nation. NAPCS explained their reasoning: "Minnesota's law does not cap charter public school growth, includes multiple authorizers, and provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability; however, it also provides inequitable funding to charter schools." (13)

"Parent" appears 10 times in the statute: four are legal, six are rights, and there are no mentions categorized as window-dressing or responsibilities.

* Legal

* Example 1: The board will help parents re-enroll students in another public school if it loses its charter.

* Example 2: "The charter school shall not distribute any services or goods of value to students, parents, or guardians as an inducement, term, or condition of enrolling a student in a charter school." (14)

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights

* Example 1: The board of directors must include at least one parent.

* Example 2: Parents are afforded "an enrollment preference to a sibling of an enrolled pupil and to a foster child of that pupil's parents." (15)

* Responsibilities: None.

California enacted its charter school law in 1992. During the 2014-15 school year, the state was home to 1,184 charter schools that enrolled 544,980 students.

NAPCS ranked the law 15th in the nation. Reasons for this include: "California's law has a cap that allows ample growth, provides a robust appellate process, provides a fair amount of autonomy but lacks some aspects of the model law's accountability provisions, and has made notable strides in recent years to provide more equitable funding to charter public schools--although some work remains to be done." (16)

"Parent" appears 22 times in the statute: 14 mentions are legal, 2 are window-dressing, 6 are rights, and none are responsibilities.

* Legal

* Example 1: A county superintendent may investigate the activities of a charter school if a parent or other entity files a complaint.

* Example 2: A governing board or county superintendent must hold a public hearing to consider the level of support for a charter school before it opens.

* Window-dressing

* Example 1: The intent of the charter law is "to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure." (17)

* Example 2: Charter schools will exist to provide "parents and students with expanded choices." (18)

* Rights

* Example 1: Parents must be included in the process of developing a school's annual goals and actions.

* Example 2: A school "will inform parents as to whether each individual course offered by the charter school meets college entrance requirements." (19)

* Responsibilities: None.

Massachusetts enacted its charter law in 1993. (20) During the 2013-14 school year, the state had 78 charter schools that enrolled 37,402 students.

NAPCS ranked the law 11th in the nation. Reasons for this include: "Massachusetts' law provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability to charter public schools, but it contains a variety of caps on charter growth, includes only a single authorizing path, and provides inequitable funding." (21)

"Parent" appears seven times: two mentions are legal, two are window-dressing, three are rights, and zero are responsibilities.

* Legal

* Example 1: The charter school shall provide parents with an annual report that includes a financial statement and information on student achievement.

* Example 2: The charter school shall provide an annual report to a parent who is contemplating enrollment.

* Window-dressing

* Example 1: Charter schools will exist "to provide parents and students with greater options in selecting schools within and outside their school districts." (22)

* Example 2: The school must show how it "shall involve parents as partners in the education of their children." (23)

* Rights

* Example 1: Ten or more parents can submit an application to create a charter school.

* Example 2: A parent can request that a child's name and home address not appear on a mailing list a charter school uses to recruit students.

* Responsibilities: None.

Mississippi enacted its charter school law in 2010. (24) NAPCS ranked the law 17th in the nation in 2016. Reasons for this include: "Mississippi's law contains a cap with room for ample growth, includes a single statewide authorizing entity, provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability, and includes strong operational and categorical funding." (25)

"Parent" appears 12 times, and Mississippi is one of the few states with language regarding parents that is categorized into each of the four categories. Seven mentions are legal, one is window-dressing, two are rights, and two are responsibilities.

* Legal

* Example 1: A parent means a "guardian or other person or entity having legal custody of a child." (26)

* Example 2: A school's organizational chart should include a protocol for reporting information to parents.

* Window-dressing

* Example 1: Charter schools will exist "to provide students, parents, community members and local entities with expanded opportunities for involvement in the public education system." (27)

* Rights

* Example 1: The majority of parents (or teachers) at an existing public school must sign a petition to convert it into a charter.

* Example 2: The school must notify a parent when human sexuality will be taught.

* Responsibilities

* Example 1: The law "prohibits parental abuse of school staff." (28)

* Example 2: A parent must accompany a child who is seeking enrollment in a charter school.
Voucher Laws
"Opportunity scholarship programs (most commonly called school
vouchers) allow disadvantaged children to receive state-funded
scholarships to attend the schools of their parents' choice. These
programs provide crucial options to children who too often are forced
to attend failing schools."
--The American Federation for Children (29)


One of the most controversial education reform initiatives in the US is the school voucher. Unlike charter schools, a voucher is a publicly funded scholarship a parent uses to pay for a private school education. In 2014-15, more than 165,000 students in 14 states and the District of Columbia benefited from 25 voucher laws. (30)

The public and policymakers often ask: do vouchers work? Research says they do, with a few caveats. The majority of the 14 "gold standard" experimental evaluations of private school choice programs' impact on student test scores found statistically significant benefits on academic outcomes for participating students. Specifically, six studies show positive outcomes for all participating groups, four show positive effects on black students, two show no effects, and two show negative effects. (31) The preponderance of positive effects is one reason why lower- and middle-income parents of all races use vouchers to enroll their children in private schools.

"Parent" appears 555 times in voucher laws (Figure 3). So, how do voucher laws address parental rights and responsibilities? I selected four states to answer this question: Wisconsin because it enacted the nation's first voucher law; Florida because it is one of the largest special-needs voucher programs in the US; Utah because it was enacted 15 years after the Wisconsin law, thus providing a newer perspective on vouchers; and Indiana because it is the first statewide means-tested voucher program.

Wisconsin enacted the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) in 1990, which began the modern American school choice movement. (32) The program provides a voucher worth $7,214 (K-8) and $7,860 (9-12) to parents with a household income up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $73,401 for a family of four. As of September 2015, MPCP had 27,619 students enrolled in 117 schools, with the majority of them being religious. (33)

The term "parent" appears 31 times: 20 mentions are legal, 2 are window-dressing, 5 are rights, and 4 are responsibilities.

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

* Legal

* Example 1: A parent whose household income does not exceed 300 percent of federal poverty guidelines is eligible for MPCP.

* Example 2: The state superintendent of public instruction will give funds to the private school on behalf of the parent.

* Window-dressing

* Example 1: A school cannot prohibit a student from participating in school activities because her or his parent "cannot pay or has not paid" school fees. (34)

* Example 2: "Parental satisfaction" is one criterion the state can use to evaluate the program.

* Rights

* Example 1: A school must exempt a child from participation in religious activities upon written notice by a parent.

* Example 2: A parent can appeal a private school decision not to accept a child, if the school has an appeals process.

* Responsibilities

* Example 1: A parent must submit an application to a private school.

* Example 2: A parent must submit proof of a child's enrollment in a private school before the state superintendent writes a check to the school.

Florida enacted the John M. McKay Scholarship Program in 1999 to provide a taxpayer-funded scholarship for public school students who have an individualized education plan (IEP) or a 504 plan. (35) It is the first special-needs voucher program in the nation and among the largest choice programs. The program had 30,378 students enrolled in 1,301 schools during the 2014-15 school year. (36) The average scholarship value for a student with an IEP is $7,681, and for a student with a 504 plan, it is $4,430.

The term "parent" appears 55 times--the highest for any voucher law. Of these mentions, 31 are legal, 1 is window-dressing, 11 are rights, and 12 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: A parent of a child with a disability may participate in the scholarship program.

** Example 2: The state department of education must notify a school district of a parent's intent to use a scholarship to pay for educational services.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: A parent who applies for a scholarship is "exercising his or her parental option." (37)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent has the right to move a child from one participating private school to another and maintain a scholarship.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent is responsible for transporting a child to an assessment site designated by the school district.

** Example 2: Parents and students "have an obligation" to comply with written policies of a private school.

Utah enacted the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program in 2005 to provide the state portion of per-pupil funding to pay for educational services at private schools. (38) The average voucher value is $5,342 for students enrolled in 43 schools in 2014-15. (39) The term "parent" appears in the law 21 times: nine are legal, three are window-dressing, two are rights, and seven are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: A parent must be a resident of the state to receive a scholarship.

** Example 2: A person may give "power of attorney" to represent herself or himself.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: "Parents are best equipped to make decisions for their children." (40)

** Example 2: "Children, parents, and families are the primary beneficiaries of the scholarship." (41)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent is a member of his or her child's assessment team.

** Example 2: A parent can change his or her child's private school and retain the scholarship.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: The parent must acknowledge the selected school is capable of "providing the level of special education services required for the student." (42)

** Example 2: "Acceptance of this scholarship has the same effect as a parental refusal to consent to services pursuant to . . . the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act." (43)

Indiana enacted its statewide Choice Scholarship Program in 2011, and today it is the fastest-growing voucher program in the nation. (44) In fact, the enrollment of low-income and middle-class students in the program grew from 3,911 in 2011 to 29,148 in 2014-15. The average scholarship award for students in grades 1-8 whose household income is equal to or below 100 percent of the federal free or reduced-price lunch program is $4,159. For students in grades 9-12, it is $5,662. (45)

The term "parent" appears nine times: six are legal, one is window-dressing, one is a right, and one is a responsibility.

* Legal

** Example 1: The department of education is responsible for notifying parents of their child's educational options.

** Example 2: A parent must receive notification from the department of education when it terminates a contract of a scholarship-granting organization.

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: Teachers should emphasize respect for "parents and the home" in classroom instruction.

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent can choose not to have a child participate in the pledge of allegiance.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must endorse the scholarship check in order for her or his child to enroll in a private school.
Tax-Credit Scholarship Laws
"Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial
tax credits for donating to nonprofits that provide K-12 private
school scholarships. The amount of tax credits distributed is capped
at an amount determined by the legislature, which, in turn, affects
the availability and size of scholarships."
--The Friedman Foundation (46)


One of the fastest-growing education reform initiatives in the US is the tax-credit scholarship program. Of the 20 tax-credit laws in place in February 2016, 11 were enacted by state legislatures since 2010. (47)

"Parent" appears 171 times in tax-credit laws, with an average of 9 mentions per law (Figure 4). I selected four states to evaluate tax-credit scholarship laws: Pennsylvania because it enacted one of the first tax-credit laws, Arizona because it has three tax-credit laws, Alabama because it has one of the newest tax-credit laws, and Kansas because it began its program in 2015.

Pennsylvania enacted the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program in 2001. The program awarded 38,278 scholarships during the 2013-14 school year, with an average scholarship value of $1,587. "Parent" appears in the law 14 times: 10 mentions are legal, none are window-dressing, none are rights, and 4 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: "A school district shall notify the parents of each student who is currently attending or residing within the attendance boundary of a low-achieving school during the school year of the school's designation." (48)

** Example 2: A parent must live in the state.

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights: None.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must contact a school district or private school to enroll a child in a program.

** Example 2: Public school or private school personnel must inform the parent of the responsibilities that come with participation in the program.

Arizona enacted Lexie's Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program in 2009. (49) In 2013-14, 394 students enrolled in 91 participating schools, with an average scholarship value of $4,648. "Parent" appears 28 times: 9 are legal, 4 are window-dressing, 5 are rights, and 10 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: The school district must inform parents of options available to children with disabilities.

** Example 2: The state department of education makes the payment to the school on behalf of the child.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: A public school parent who is "dissatisfied" with the progress of her or his special-needs child may request and receive a scholarship.

** Example 2: "Parents who apply for Arizona scholarships pursuant to this article are exercising their parental option to place their children in a qualified school." (50)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent can request a child take the state standardized test.

** Example 2: A school district must notify parents of students with a disability about all public and private options available.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must notify the school district of her or his intent to apply for a scholarship.

** Example 2: A parent must "comply fully with the qualified school's parental involvement requirements, unless the parent is excused by the school for illness or for other good cause." (51)

Alabama enacted its Education Scholarship Program in 2013 to allow individuals and corporations that donate money to a state-approved scholarship-granting organization to claim 100 percent of the tax-credit (contribution). (52) Children who are eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program ($44,863 for a family of four) or who are zoned to attend a failing public school qualify for a scholarship. In 2014-15, 2,851 students were enrolled in scholarship-granting organization schools. "Parent" appears 12 times: 10 are legal, none are window-dressing, 1 is a right, and 1 is a responsibility.

* Legal

** Example 1: A parent is a person "with authority to act on behalf of the student." (53)

** Example 2: "The parent or guardian shall claim the student as a dependent on his or her Alabama state income tax return." (54)

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights

** Example 1: Parents have the right to receive their child's test scores annually.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must verify that the child's home address is located in a failing school zone to qualify for a scholarship.

Kansas enacted the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program in 2014--the state's first private choice program. (55) The program targets students who qualify for the federal free lunch program or attend a low-performing public school. "Parent" appears five times: three mentions are legal, one is window-dressing, one is a right, and none are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: A parent is someone who can act on behalf of a child.

** Example 2: A scholarship-granting organization can make a check payable to the parent or the school.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: "The program shall provide eligible students with an opportunity to attend schools of their parents' choice." (56)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent must give permission for a child's name to appear on a list given to a student scholarship organization for purposes of recruitment and marketing.

* Responsibilities: None.
Individual Tax Credit/Deduction Laws
"Through individual tax credits and deductions, parents can receive
state income tax relief for approved educational expenses, which can
include private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors,
and transportation. Tax credits lower the total taxes a person owes;
a deduction reduces a person's total taxable income.
--The Friedman Foundation (57)


Individual tax credit/deduction (ITCD) laws differ from tax-credit scholarships in two ways. First, all families are eligible for an ITCD--not just families with a child enrolled in or assigned to a failing school, families with a special-needs child, or families with household incomes near the federal poverty level. Second, "parent" appears less frequently in an ITCD law because it is primarily a financial transaction.

"Parent" appears in 9 ITCD laws 42 times (Figure 5): 31 mentions occur in the Alabama law; 7 in South Carolina; 2 in Indiana; 2 in Illinois; and none in Iowa, Louisiana, Wisconsin, or either Minnesota law. Therefore, I have focused on three states that mentioned "parent" at least once: Indiana, South Carolina, and Alabama.

Indiana enacted the Indiana Private School/Homeschool Deduction law in 2011. (58) A parent with a home-schooled child or a child already enrolled in a private school qualifies for up to a $1,000 tax deduction for educational expenses. "Parent" appears in the law only two times, and both are legal mentions.

* Legal

** Example 1: "If the parents of a child are divorced, the term refers to the parent who is eligible to take the exemption for the child under Section 151 of the Internal Revenue Code." (59)

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights: None.

[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]

* Responsibilities: None.

South Carolina enacted the Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children in 2013. A parent can receive a tax refund up to $10,000 or the cost of a child's education, whichever is less. (60) "Parent" appears in the law seven times: four mentions are legal, one is window-dressing, one is a right, and one is a responsibility.

* Legal

** Example 1: Parent means "natural or adoptive" person or legal guardian of a child.

** Example 2: A scholarship-funding organization cannot have a parent on its governing board.

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights

** Example 1: A private school's education oversight committee must include a parent among its nine members.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must confirm that a child qualifies as "exceptional" before a scholarship-funding organization can provide a grant to the family.

Alabama enacted the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 Parent-Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credit Program to authorize families with a child enrolled in or assigned to a failing public school to transfer to a higher-performing public school or a private school. (61) The tax credit is worth 80 percent of the average state per-pupil amount.

According to Department of Revenue's 2014 annual report, four nonprofit organizations awarded 5,776 scholarships totaling $23 million. More than 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

"Parent" appears in the law 31 times: 19 mentions are legal, 4 are window-dressing, 2 are rights, and 6 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: The school district must inform parents of public and private options available to them once a school is deemed a failing public school.

** Example 2: The school district is responsible for transportation costs for transferring the student to a new school.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: This program is created to help families "offset the cost of transferring the student to a non-failing public school or nonpublic school of the parent's choice." (62)

** Example 2: "To better serve students and better use available resources . . . parents need the ability to explore flexible alternatives in an effort to be more efficient and effective in providing operational and programmatic services." (63)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent can enroll a child in a non-failing public school or a private school.

** Example 2: The program will allow the school district to pay for the costs of transferring a child to a new school located within the boundary zone.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must certify the child was enrolled or assigned to a failing public school to qualify for the program.

** Example 2: A parent is responsible for costs to transport a child to a new school located outside the school district boundary zone.
Education Savings Account Laws
"Education Savings Accounts are an innovative choice program that
empowers families with the financial freedom to choose the right
school or learning environment for their child."
--Foundation for Excellence in Education (64)


The newest education reform initiative in the US is education savings accounts (ESAs). This form of choice differs from charters, vouchers, and tax credit and deduction scholarships in two ways. First, state funds are allocated to a debit card to pay for educational expenses--not to a public or private school or a scholarship-granting organization. Second, parents choose the educational provider.

Only Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Nevada have an ESA law, so I have included each law here. "Parent" appears 179 times in current ESA laws, with an average of 35.8 mentions per law (Figure 6).

Arizona enacted the Empowerment Scholarship Program in 2011. (65) Children who received a tax-credit scholarship from an existing tax-credit program in the state or who attended at least 100 days in a public school in the previous fiscal year can participate in the program. The average annual scholarship award is $10,300 for 2015-16. (66)

"Parent" appears in the law 19 times: 11 mentions are legal, none are window-dressing, 1 is a right, and 7 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: "Parent means a resident of this state who is the parent or legal guardian of a qualified student." (67)

** Example 2: "A qualified school shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy or curriculum in order to accept students whose parents pay tuition or fees from an empowerment scholarship account pursuant to this chapter in order to participate as a qualified school." (68)

[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights

** Example 1: If the department removes a "parent or student" from the program for breaching the signed contract with the state, the parent can appeal the decision.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must sign an agreement to "provide an education for the qualified student in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science."

** Example 2: A parent must abide by the terms of the contract or risk removal from the program.

Florida enacted the Gardiner Scholarship Program in 2014 for parents of special-needs children who have an IEP and are eligible to enroll in a K-12 public school. (69)

The Florida legislature added three- and four-year-olds to the program in 2016. The average scholarship amount is $10,000 for 2015-16.

"Parent" appears in the law 55 times: 34 mentions are legal, 2 are window-dressing, 8 are rights, and 11 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: "Parent is either or both parents of a student, any guardian of a student, any person in a parental relationship to a student, or any person exercising supervisory authority over a student in place of the parent." (70)

** Example 2: State money invested into a personal savings account does not "constitute taxable income to the parent." (71)

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: The law provides an "option for a parent to better meet the individual educational needs of his or her eligible child." (72)

** Example 2: "A parent who applies for program participation under this section is exercising his or her parental option to determine the appropriate placement or the services that best meet the needs of his or her child." (73)

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent can request that the school district recalculate the funding matrix to determine if the level of funding must be adjusted to meet a child's needs.

** Example 2: A private school must be "academically accountable" to a parent, which includes providing her or him an annual written assessment of a student's progress.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must adhere to program requirements or forfeit the right to participate in the program.

** Example 2: For at least two years, a parent must maintain an academic portfolio for a child and must make it available for a district superintendent or designee to inspect upon 15 days' written notice.

Tennessee enacted the Individualized Education Account Program (IEA) in 2015 to help families with special-needs children pay for education costs, including private school tuition and contracted services with a public school. (74) The program is scheduled to begin in 2017. "Parent" appears 25 times: 15 mentions are legal, 1 is window-dressing, 2 are rights, and 7 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: "Parent means the parent, legal guardian, person who has custody of the child, or person with caregiving authority for the child." (75)

** Example 2: The department will provide parents of participating students with a written explanation of the allowable uses of IEAs and the responsibilities of participating parents.

* Window-dressing

** Example 1: "Parents are encouraged, when selecting appropriate educational placements for their students, to consider participating schools with inclusive educational settings that educate students with disabilities and students without disabilities together." (76)

* Rights

** Example 1: Parents can use an IEA to pay for educational expenses beyond those identified in the law.

** Example 2: "Parents may make payments for the costs of educational programs and services not covered by the funds in their IEA." (77)

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must release the public school district of its responsibility for providing IEA services to the child once he or she participates in the ESA program.

** Example 2: A parent "shall ensure" a child is annually administered a nationally norm-referenced test or a state test.

Mississippi enacted the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program in 2015. (78)

"Parent" appears 26 times: 21 mentions are legal, none are window-dressing, none are rights, and 5 are responsibilities.

* Legal

** Example 1: A state agency shall prepare a report for the legislature every two years that contains data about parent and student satisfaction and student achievement.

** Example 2: The state will transfer funds to an account managed by the parent.

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights: None.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must sign an agreement with the state promising to provide a child an education in "at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science." (79)

** Example 2: A parent forgoes "entitlement to a free appropriate public education" upon enrollment of a child in an ESA program. (80)

Nevada enacted an ESA law in 2015 that will go into effect in 2016. (81) Unlike the other savings account laws that allow parents of students with special needs or parents of a child enrolled in a failing public school to qualify, all public school parents in Nevada qualify for an ESA.

Parents of children with special needs or those with a household income less than 185 percent of federal poverty qualify for 100 percent of the average per-pupil state amount, which is $5,700 in 2015-16. Parents with a household income above 185 percent of federal poverty qualify for an ESA worth $5,100. Allowable ESA expenditures include primary private school tuition and books and tuition at a postsecondary public or private institution. (82)

"Parent" appears in the law 54 times: 43 mentions are legal, none are window-dressing, 7 are rights, and 4 are responsibilities. (83)

* Legal

** Example 1: "Parent means the parent, custodial parent, legal guardian or other person in this State who has control or charge of a child and the legal right to direct the education of the child." (84)

** Example 2: The state treasurer is authorized to establish an ESA upon completion of a signed agreement with a parent.

* Window-dressing: None.

* Rights

** Example 1: A parent with a child enrolled in a public school for 100 days without interruption may establish an ESA.

** Example 2: A parent may establish an ESA for a home-schooled child if a portion of the educational services received comes from a public school or a state-approved private provider.

* Responsibilities

** Example 1: A parent must choose to have their child participate in all "college entrance examinations offered in this state, including, without limitation, the SAT, the ACT, the Preliminary SAT and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test." (85)

** Example 2: A parent must provide a birth certificate or another form of documentation to a local school board, if requested, for a child to receive special education services.

Personal Reflections

Since 1991, I have been an advocate for parental choice policies. Although I have been involved in the charter, voucher, tax-credit scholarship, and now ESA movements, the work left me with little time to reflect on the rights and responsibilities that should accompany efforts to expand school choice programs.

I conducted this project to bridge the gap between theory and practice. I began with certain expectations, including that parental rights would be mentioned in our choice laws a lot more than they are--possibly accounting for more than 50 percent of the mentions. Another is that parental responsibilities would be a prevalent feature. I am surprised by how far the reality is from my expectations.

The striking thing is how little attention state legislators, reformers, and researchers pay to the question of parents when discussing and analyzing choice laws. Whether out of political caution, inattention, or something else, laws designed for the sole purpose of empowering parents typically include minimal or limited language about their rights and responsibilities in the K-12 landscape.

For example, approximately 60 percent of "parent" mentions in the four voucher and tax-credits laws highlighted in this study are not about rights and responsibilities. For the tax-deduction and ESA laws highlighted in this paper, more than 70 percent of "parent" mentions are not about rights and responsibilities. Although the four charter laws discussed here do better than the other choice programs, less than 50 percent of "parent" mentions are not about rights and responsibilities. Overall, legal and window-dressing references are the norm in these 20 programs. Hopefully this report will help kick-start a more robust conversation about what it means to take the role of parents in parental choice laws seriously.

Even a cursory look at these laws makes it clear how unrelated most references to parental involvement are--despite "parental empowerment" or "parental choice" being the mantra for their enactment. Most of the efforts to address parents amount to "legalese" and window-dressing. Although each category is important in its own right, window-dressing and legal mentions do little to forcefully articulate what communities and taxpayers may reasonably ask of parents who participate in choice programs or what parents are entitled to in terms of information, processes, or support.

This all reflects a lack of guidance for policymakers or advocates who want to take the parental role more seriously. There is a need for an effort to identify, catalogue, and disseminate model language and legislation that can help states better emphasize the parental role in education--and create the correct balance of rights and responsibilities along the way.

This is not about passing blame. Policymakers and advocates have good intentions when creating choice laws. However, the process of getting parental choice laws enacted can, at times, supersede careful attention to how they empower--or do not empower--the individuals for whom these laws were originally created to support.

This project unearthed how parents are mentioned in 102 school choice laws and the nature of those mentions in 20 specific school choice programs across the country. This required me to reflect on my work. My previous efforts to promote choice laws focused more on policy norms--creating new laws or improving existing ones--rather than parental norms--expanding rights and responsibilities for those making decisions to enroll children in school choice programs.

For example, while I was the Virginia secretary of education, I helped enact legislation in 2010 that improved the rights of a local school board and the state department of education in the development and assessment of a community group's charter school application. Even in this capacity, I did little to directly expand rights for parents with children enrolled in an existing charter school. Similarly, while serving as president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, I advocated for parental rights to better public and private schools in several states, but I left parental responsibilities relatively untouched.

Why? Getting choice programs created for parents was priority number one. Once choice programs were in place, my focus shifted to protecting and expanding choice seats in public and private programs and promoting high-quality options along the way. None of this meant that parental responsibilities were unimportant; rather, I surmised that empowered parents would assume responsibilities for their children's education. While some parents are taking full advantage of the responsibilities afforded to them by a choice law, many are not--and legislators have the capacity to change that.

Moving ahead, parental rights and responsibilities will become a top priority for me--as they should for lawmakers and advocates as well. Our choice laws must reflect more than "legalese" and window-dressing if we are to truly empower parents so that they can help their children. Expanding and reforming choice laws in light of this research requires us to be mindful about bridging the gap between rights and responsibilities as we seek to empower parents.

Conclusion

Empowering parents in the American education system requires concerted effort on the part of policymakers, researchers, and advocates. To date, attempts to empower parents have fallen far short of what is necessary for creating schools that foster true parental empowerment. Regrettably, existing choice laws demonstrate that parental rights and responsibilities in education statutes are little more than a dull roar.

In our haste to get more school choice laws on the books, advocates have been less reflective than perhaps we should have been about how our programs foster a balance of parental rights and responsibilities. Slowly but surely, we have made parental rights and responsibilities an afterthought without realizing it. Giving parents clear rights and responsibilities is a process, and it is one that more lawmakers and reformers should take up.

Carefully crafted school choice policies must maintain a healthy number of "parent" mentions, but these mentions should be more than merely window-dressing. State legislatures must also do more than sprinkle statutes with legal jargon and feel-good phrases related to parents. If states want school choice to truly work, they must have a critical eye for how laws treat parents, how they invite them into the lifelong process of a child's schooling, and how they call equal attention to both rights and responsibilities.

While parents are not exactly looking to state statute for cues on how to raise their children, these laws can serve as powerful tools for reformers and policymakers to set up a more robust dynamic between the school system and the family. Keeping in mind that a law in and of itself can accomplish only so much, policymakers and reformers must also look beyond policy and invite schools, nonprofits, corporations, and the faith community to partner in this endeavor. This process will return our focus to education not just as a means to an end, but as the foundation for a healthy and productive civil society.

About the Author

Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on education policy issues including choice in public and private schools, implementation of K-12 standards, innovation in for-profit educational institutions, and the role of community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in adult advancement. He is also the former Florida commissioner of education and Virginia secretary of education.

Notes

(1.) I used Westlaw database to review 100 school choice laws. I used SB 302 for the Nevada Education Savings Account law and Proviso 1.68 for the South Carolina Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children.

(2.) "Parent" appears in multiple forms throughout school choice laws, including "parent," "parents," and "parental." "Parent" and "guardian" are used interchangeably in some laws. While I am aware that some statutes use "guardian," I only coded for the term "parent."

(3.) New Hampshire Education Tax Credit, [section] 77-G:1, http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/v/77-g/77-g-mrg.htm.

(4.) New Mexico Charter School Law, Article 8B, [section] 22-8B-3.

(5.) Illinois Charter School Law, 105 ILCS 5/27A-2(a)(3).

(6.) Arizona Scholarship for Pupils with Disabilities Law, [section] 15-891.03, http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?in-Doc=/ars/15/00891-03.htm&Title=15&DocType=ARS.

(7.) Center for Education Reform, "Just the FAQS--Charter Schools," https://www.edreform.com/2012/03/just-the-faqscharter-schools/.

(8.) Sara Mead, Ashley LiBetti Mitchel, and Andrew J. Rotherham, The State of the Charter School Movement, Bellwether Education Partners, September 10, 2015, http://bellwethereducation.org/publication/state-charter-school-movement. Seven states do not have a charter school law as of February 2016: Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. Washington state's charter law was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court on September 4, 2015. Students remain in existing charter schools while the legislature creates a new law.

(9.) National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Types of Authorizers," http://www.qualitycharters.org/researchpolicies/archive/types-of-authorizers/. For a more in-depth look at charter authorizers, see Michael Q. McShane, Jenn Hatfield, and Elizabeth English, The Paperwork Pile-Up: Measuring the Burden of Charter School Applications, American Enterprise Institute, May 2015, https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Paperwork-Pileup-final.pdf.

(10.) Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Urban Charter School Study Report on 41 Regions, 2015, http://urbancharters.stanford.edu/download/Urban%20Charter%20School%20Study%20Report%20on%2041%20Regions.pdf.

(11.) Minnesota Department of Education, "Charter Schools," http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/StuSuc/CharterSch/index.html.

(12.) National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws, January 2016, 56-57, http://www.publiccharters.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Model-Law-Final_2016.pdf.

(13.) Ibid., 54.

(14.) Minnesota Statutes 2015, Chapter 124E: Charter Schools (2015), 16, https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=124E&format=pdf.

(15.) Ibid., 16.

(16.) Ibid., 52-53.

(17.) California Education Code, Title 2, Division 4, Part 26.8, chap. 1, 47601, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EDC&sectionNum=47601.

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) California Education Code, Title 2, Division 4, Part 26.8, chap. 1, 47605.6, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EDC&sectionNum=47605.6.

(20.) Massachusetts Department of Education, "Charter Schools," http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/default.html.

(21.) National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Measuring Up to the Model, 20-21.

(22.) Massachusetts General Laws, Title XII, chap. 71, sec. 89, https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXII/Chapter71/Section89.

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Mississippi Department of Education, "Charter Schools," http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/charter-schools.

(25.) National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Measuring Up to the Model, 58-59.

(26.) Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013, HB no. 369 (2013), http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2013/pdf/HB/0300-0399/HB0369CS.pdf.

(27.) Ibid.

(28.) Ibid.

(29.) American Federation for Children Growth Fund, "School Choice Facts," http://afcgrowthfund.org/school-choice-facts/.

(30.) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, The ABCs of School Choice: The Comprehensive Guide to Every Private School Choice Program in America, 2016, http://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-ABCs-WEB.pdf. Five states do not have a publicly funded private school choice law: Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

(31.) For Patrick J. Wolf's research about MPCP, see University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, "Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) Evaluation," http://www.uaedreform.org/milwaukee-parental-choice-program-evaluation/; and Patrick J. Wolf, The Comprehensive Longitudinal Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: Summary of Final Report, SCDP Milwaukee Evaluation, Report #36, University of Arkansas Department of Education, February 2012. For background information on early gold standard studies about private school choice, see Greg Forster, A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, April 2013, http://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2013-4-A-Win-Win-Solution-WEB.pdf. For negative effects a choice program has on students, see Jonathan N. Mills, Anna J. Egalite, and Patrick J. Wolf, How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students? A Comprehensive Summary of Effects After Two Years, SCDP and Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, February 2016.

(32.) Wisconsin Department of Education, "Private School Choice Programs," http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/choice-programs.

(33.) Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), "Facts and Figures for 2015-2016 as of November 2015," http://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sms/pdf/MPCP%20Sept%20Facts%20and%20Figures%202015-16.pdf; and MPCP, "Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Headcount and FTE - 2015-16 School Year," http://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sms/pdf/MPCP%202015-16%20Sept%20Numbers%20by%20School%20with%20all%20Pupils.pdf.

(34.) Wis. Stats. Chap. 119: First Class City School System (April 9, 2016), 8, http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/119.pdf.

(35.) Florida Department of Education, "McKay Scholarship," http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/k-12-scholarship-programs/mckay/.

(36.) Florida Department of Education, "McKay Scholarship Program Fact Sheet," http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/5606/urlt/McKay_Nov_2015.pdf.

(37.) Florida John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, Title XLVII, 1002.39 (2015), http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1002/Sections/1002.39.html.

(38.) Utah State Office of Education, "Carson Smith Scholarships," http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Scholarships.aspx.

(39.) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Fast Facts," http://www.edchoice.org/our-resources/fast-facts/; and Utah State Office of Education, "Carson Smith Eligible List for an Updated 2015-2016," http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Scholarships/PrivateSchools.aspx.

(40.) Utah Carson Smith Scholarship for Students with Special Needs Act, 53A-1a-701 (2005), http://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter1A/53A-1a-S701.html.

(41.) Ibid.

(42.) Ibid.

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Indiana Department of Education, "Indiana Choice Scholarships," http://www.doe.in.gov/choice.

(45.) Indiana Department of Education Office of School Finance, Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report: Participation and Payment Data, 2015, 6 and 12, http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/choice/2014-2015-choice-scholarship-program-report_1.pdf; and Indiana Department of Education, "Participating Schools 2015-2016," http://www.doe.in.gov/choice/participating-schools-2015-16.

(46.) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Fast Facts."

(47.) American Federation for Children Growth Fund, The School Choice Yearbook, 2016, http://afcgrowthfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/AFC_2014-15_Yearbook.pdf.

(48.) Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, 72 P.S. [section] 8701, https://govt.westlaw.com/pac/Document/N962BD16071B911E4B48AED0DEE8F3F2E?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default).

(49.) Arizona Department of Revenue, "Disabled/Displaced Scholarships from School Tuition Organizations," https://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/CorporateTuitionTaxCredits/DisabledDisplacedScholarships.aspx.

(50.) Arizona Lexie's Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program, [section] 15-891, http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/15/00891-03.htm&Title=15&DocType=ARS.

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) "Alabama Department of Revenue," https://revenue.alabama.gov/accountability/.

(53.) Alabama Education Scholarship Program, [section] 16-6D-4, http://law.justia.com/codes/alabama/2013/title-16/chapter-6d/section-16-6d-4.

(54.) Ibid.

(55.) Kansas Department of Revenue, "Low Income Student Scholarship," http://www.ksrevenue.org/taxcredits-LowIncomeStudents.html.

(56.) Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program, [section] 72-99a03 (2014), http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2013s/b2013_14/statute/072_000_0000_chapter/072_099a_0000_article/072_099a_0003_section/072_099a_0003_k/.

(57.) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Fast Facts."

(58.) Indiana Department of Revenue, "Private School/Homeschool Deduction," http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/accreditation/private-school-deduction-instructions.pdf.

(59.) "Parent" appears twice in the same sentence here, but I highlight only one example because both mentions define who is eligible for the tax-credit benefit in the case of divorce. See Ind. Code [section] 6-3-2-22.

(60.) Palmetto Kids FIRST Scholarship Program Inc., "Proviso 1.68," 2015, https://palmettokidsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ECENC-07-01-2015-Proviso-1-68.pdf. The program is managed by the South Carolina Department of Revenue, "Education Credits for Exceptional Needs Children," http://ecenc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/ECENC-Overview.pdf.

(61.) "Alabama Department of Revenue."

(62.) Eligibility for Parent Tax Credit for Students Enrolled in or Assigned to Attend a Failing School, 810-3-60-.01, http://revenue.alabama.gov/rules/810-3-60-.01.pdf.

(63.) Alabama Parent-Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credit Program, [section] 16-6D-3, http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/16-6D-3.htm.

(64.) Foundation for Excellence in Education, "Education Savings Account," http://excelined.org/education-savings-accounts/.

(65.) Arizona Department of Education, "Empowerment Scholarship," http://www.azed.gov/esa/.

(66.) Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, The ABCs of School Choice.

(67.) Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Program, [section] 15-2401, http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/15/02401.htm&Title=15&DocType=ARS.

(68.) Ibid.

(69.) Florida Department of Education, "Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program," http://www.fldoe.org/schools/schoolchoice/k-12-scholarship-programs/plsa/. This was the official name until the General Assembly changed it to the Gardiner Scholarship Program in 2016.

(70.) Florida Statewide Definitions (parent), 1000.21 (2015), http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2015/1000.21.

(71.) Florida Gardiner Scholarship Program, 1002.385 (2015), http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2015/1002.385.

(72.) Ibid.

(73.) Ibid.

(74.) Tennessee Department of Education, "Individualized Education Account Program," https://www.tn.gov/education/section/iea.

(75.) Tennessee Individualized Education Act, [section] 49-10-1402(5).

(76.) Ibid., [section] 49-10-1403(14)(d).

(77.) Ibid.

(78.) Mississippi Department of Education, "MDE Begins Work on Establishing Process for Special Needs Voucher Program," April 16, 2015, http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/TD/news/2015/04/16/mde-begins-work-on-establishing-process-for-special-needsvoucher-program.

(79.) Mississippi Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program, SB 2695, http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2015/html/SB/2600-2699/SB2695SG.htm.

(80.) Ibid.

(81.) Nevada State Treasurer, "Education Savings Account," http://www.nevadatreasurer.gov/SchoolChoice/Home/.

(82.) Nevada State Treasurer, "Nevada's Education Savings Account Program: FAQS," http://www.nevadatreasurer.gov/uploadedFiles/nevadatreasurergov/content/SchoolChoice/NVESA_FAQ.pdf.

(83.) "Parent" appeared 54 times in SB 302. Nevada SB 302 (2015), 106, https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/78th2015/Bill/1857/Overview.

(84.) Ibid.

(85.) Ibid.
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