A panel of scholars advances a bold plan for expanding the options that parents have for schooling their children in a new report from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy.
Issued last week, the report envisions education systems in which all parents would be required to choose from a range of education alternatives, including virtual schools, for their children. Financed with public funds, all the schools would be required to administer the same assessments to students and to admit students by lottery, the report says. It also calls for basing schools’ funding in part on their popularity and closing or restructuring unpopular schools.
To help parents navigate schooling options, the report recommends creating independent Web sites and devising a metric to measure the degree of choice available to families within a school system. The panel also urges the federal government to encourage school systems with both low-performing schools and low levels of choice to expand schooling options.
“Our position is that, whatever the education delivery design the public has chosen to put in place in a particular school jurisdiction,” the report concludes, “parents should be afforded the maximum degree of choice, provided with valid information on the performance of the education programs that are available, and have their preferences for education programs reflected in the funding of those programs.”
A version of this article appeared in the February 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as School Choice