School Choice & Charters Federal File

Choice Panel Touts Vouchers

By Caroline Hendrie — April 19, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Department of Education released a handbook last week aimed at helping parents make informed decisions when choosing schools for their children. But some felt the agency itself could have made a better choice when assembling a panel of parents to talk about the virtues of school choice.

Featured on the five-member panel were parents who had helped lead the fights in their respective cities for publicly financed private school vouchers in the District of Columbia and Milwaukee, as well as parents with children using such tuition vouchers in Cleveland and the nation’s capital.

“Choosing A School For Your Child” is available online from the U.S. Department of Education. ()

The fifth parent enrolled her children in a charter school in Washington after consulting with D.C. Parents for School Choice, a group at the forefront of the successful fight last year to establish the city’s federally financed voucher program.

Panel members spoke passionately about their experiences in shopping for schools and their feelings on the need for parental choice. They also plugged the department’s new 43-page guide, “Choosing a School for Your Child.”

But the panel’s pro-voucher message raised concern among some of those on hand for the booklet’s April 12 unveiling at the Education Department’s Washington headquarters.

Susan Nogan, a senior policy analyst for the National Education Association, which strongly opposes vouchers, noted that the invitation to the event had highlighted the school choices available to families under the federal No Child Left Behind Act but made no mention of voucher programs.

Ms. Nogan said that “helping parents to make choices under No Child Left Behind did not seem to be the agenda of this panel.”

“It’s unfortunate that the department didn’t invite panelists who were qualified to speak about choices available under No Child Left Behind, since that was the stated topic of the event, and instead chose to use the opportunity to promote their ideological agenda,” she said.

Ms. Nogan did not criticize the booklet, though, calling it “reasonable.”

Published by the department’s office for innovation and improvement, the handbook gives parents a step-by-step checklist for selecting schools and provides thumbnail sketches of public and private schooling options.

Michael J. Petrilli, the office’s second in command, said in response to Ms. Nogan’s remarks that “panel members discussed choosing public schools, charter schools, private schools—they represented the full spectrum of the education system. It’s not factually correct to say that the parents only talked about vouchers.”

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty