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Choice of Schools
Choice of Schools--Charter Schools

Perhaps the most contentious topic in public education today is the use of public money in private and parochial schools, usually through a voucher, tax credit, or tax deduction. For some, these options threaten the very existence of the public education system. For others, these options provide greater educational opportunities for students and, by introducing competition into the public education system, have the potential to improve its performance.

While highly controversial, these options continue to gain traction in statehouses across the country and in 2011 alone, seven new private school choice programs were enacted and 42 states introduced legislation to expand current programs.

The controversy surrounding these programs often centers around the debate on whether religiously-affiliated private schools are permitted under the U.S. and individual states' constitution to receive public funding. However, with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June 2002 that the publicly funded voucher program in Cleveland, Ohio, does not violate the separation of church and state principle, the constitutionality of publicly funded vouchers at the federal level has been solidified. Conversely, state constitutions vary widely in how they address the flow of public dollars to private and parochial schools, thereby leaving the constitutionality of publicly funded vouchers at the state level an open question in many places.


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