Why do students need options?
Every child deserves access to a quality education that provides the knowledge, skills and values necessary to prepare them for a successful career and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many children are assigned to schools that don’t fit their unique needs and learning styles. Education designed around zip codes is sure to fail some students – it would be foolish to think otherwise. For many parents, the only available option is to relocate to a new community – an option out of reach for thousands of families without the resources to pick up and move.
Forms of School Choice
Private Schools are schools that are funded by individuals or organizations outside of the government.
Are private schools accessible?
A 2016 survey of private schools in Arkansas found that the average tuition costs were less than $4,500 per year. Based on private school projections in the same survey, it is estimated that there are more than 9,000 empty seats in private schools across Arkansas – empty seats that could be accessed by students in need of an alternative.
The Succeed Scholarship
The Succeed Scholarship provides a scholarship for a student to an approved private school in the amount of $6,781. To be eligible to student must have an Individualized Education Program or be a child in foster care living in a group home or facility. The Reform Alliance administers the scholarships.
Charter Schools are public schools that are ran independently from the state. Charter schools must provide academic results to the Arkansas Department of Education and must abide by the charter contracts. There are two forms of charter schools in Arkansas; open-enrollment schools and conversion schools. An open-enrollment charter school is run by a governmental entity, an institution of higher learning or a tax-exempt non-sectarian organization and is not restricted to enrolling students by district boundaries. A conversion charter is a public school that is converted to a public charter and must only enroll students within the district boundaries.
There is no tuition or voucher needed to enroll a student in a charter school.
Tax Credit Scholarships
Tax-Credit Scholarships give full or partial tax credits to businesses or individuals who donate money to nonprofits who manage scholarship funds. The nonprofits use the funds to give eligible students scholarship money for educational expenses.
Inter & Intra District Public School Choice
In 2015 the Arkansas Department of Education pass the Public School Choice Act. This allows students to transfer from their zoned public school to another public school, either within the same school district or outside their zoned school district.
Homeschooling is a choice parents can make to provide their child’s education at home. The Arkansas Department of Education has a homeschool office with resources and information to help parents.
Schooling that can be used in combination with a traditional classroom, or completely independent and allows the student to work on their curriculum with teachers and instructors on a platform through the internet. Digital learning can be either public or private and parents could possibly use tax-credit scholarships to fund educational resources for the program. Arkansas Virtual Academy is one school that allows Arkansas students to pursue this form of educational choice.
Individual Tax-Credits and Deductions
Tax-credit and deductions give parents benefits on their taxes for educational expenses like private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors and transportation.