School Choice (Public Choice)

School choice, sometimes called public choice, describes any one of several forms of publicly-funded alternative education program that allows students to choose to attend any of various participating private and public schools, usually based on a system of vouchers, tax credits, or scholarships. These programs are generally intended to give parents more input in which primary and secondary schools their children attend. In the United States, school choice sometimes refers to the social movement instrumental in making these programs possible. Among the movement organizers' hopes is that increased choice will allow impoverished families to choose other options than public schools, which are considered by many to be failing in many, mainly urban areas. It is hoped that this will create competition between schools for education dollars, which will give public schools an incentive to perform better than they have in the past.

Various school choice advocacy groups differ in the extent to which they support privatization. Some do not advocate privatization at all, wishing only to allow parents greater choice among different public schools within a district. Others seek to grant parents the option of either spending vouchers at a privately-run school or of obtaining tax credits for the same. Along these lines, some argue that funding should be tied to the student, not the district, and the student should be able to use the education voucher at any school, thus allowing more freedom and personalization in the publicly-run school system.