Myth: Only students from affluent families benefit from educational choice programs

There are numerous myths concerning educational choice programs. But in order for parents and students to make well-informed education decisions, these myths must be debunked. Below is a fourth myth and reality on how education choice works taken from a report by the Institute for Justice. (You can read about other myths I have written about here, here and here.)

Myth: Only the best and brightest students from affluent families benefit from educational choice programs, thus leaving the most disadvantaged and difficult to educate students in the public school system.

Reality: Educational choice programs primarily aid disadvantaged students, especially those with special needs or from low-income backgrounds.

There is an arbitrary link between a family’s neighborhood and the school the family’s children can attend. While affluent parents can choose a nicer neighborhood near a good public school or choose a private school, low-income families bound by financial constraints can’t always exercise the same choice.

Educational choice programs are designed to give low-income families access to these choices. Twenty-five out of the 50 choice programs across the country limit eligibility to low- and moderate-income families, according to EdChoice. Another 18 limit eligibility to students with special needs. And many of these programs require prior enrollment in a public school for students to be eligible.

For the 2017 school year, 69.2 percent of students who participated in Indiana’s voucher program came from families earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty line. Florida’s tax credit scholarship program gives scholarships to more than 100,000 low-income students annually. The Title I charter school I taught at in Arizona serves predominantly low-income students. There are examples such as these all across the country.

Educational choice programs do not discriminate against under-served students; they primarily benefit them and help them access the learning environment that best meets their needs.