As Republicans, we believe in the free market. We believe that with any good or service, increased competition results in a better product for the consumer. Our K-12 education is no different. Below, I explain three of the most common school choice options and why these alternatives are beneficial to students. Most of these options differ from state to state. Some require certain criteria to be met before a student is able to utilize the program.


Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s) allow parents to remove their child from a public school and receive access to a government authorized savings account funded with the allotted funds for that student’s education. Parents can then use a debit card, or another convenient method, to spend that money on services allowed by the state including private school tuition, supplies, and private tutors. ESA’s allow parents to customize their child’s education to fit their specific needs.

Charter Schools

Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools that are independently operated. Teachers in charter schools often have more autonomy over the curriculum and that allows them to quickly respond to the needs of each student. Some charter schools choose to design their entire curriculum around a central focus. For example, one charter school in a state may choose to be a STEM focused school while another one chooses to be a bilingual charter school and teach all their lessons in two languages. Because of the range of options that charter schools provide, parents are able to decide which public school can better serve their child.


School vouchers allow parents to use part of their child’s allotted education funding from the state to pay for private school tuition when they remove their child from a public school. This funding doesn’t always cover the entire cost of tuition at a private school. However, most states do allow for the public funds to be used at either a religious or non-religious private school. This option gives parents more freedom when deciding what type of education they want their child to receive.

Though some of these options have been utilized longer than others, these three programs are some of the most popular in the United States. The idea of school vouchers has been around for a long time with the first two programs in the United States dating back to 1869 and 1873. Today, there are over 180,000 voucher participants across 15 states. Education Savings Accounts are relatively new. The first ESA program was introduced in 2011. Now, there are over 15,000 recipients in five states. According to EdChoice, more than 3 million students are currently enrolled in a charter school and 42 states allow for the operation of charter schools in one form or another. The interest in alternative learning solutions is quickly rising, and for good reason. These programs help level the playing field and allow for low-income households to access the same resources and opportunities as high-income households. Studies show that when choices are presented to families, parents are able to find unique solutions to their child’s individual educational needs. While many of our public schools do an extraordinary job in teaching our children, they may not be the best solution for every child. At the end of the day, parents should be the ones making the decisions regarding their child’s education, not government bureaucrats.

Erica E