August 6, 2009 2:09PM

Debating the Future of Shool Choice

I have blogged repeatedly of my concern that charter schools are likely to succumb to the same heavy burden of rules and regulations that beset traditional public schools. And that, in doing so, they will expand rather than contract the existing state monopoly – first assimilating independent private schools into their fold, and then homogenizing them as the regulatory burden mounts.

This does not appear to be one of the concerns that will be represented at a forthcoming Fordham Foundation event on charter schools and the future of school choice. Instead, Fordham staff and their guests will discuss whether the current administration’s desire to expand the number of charter schools has doomed the voucher movement to irrelevancy.

It’s an interesting enough topic by itself, and suitably provocative, but it also excludes from consideration a far larger segment of the private school choice policy spectrum: education tax credits. Perhaps to their occasional advantage, tax credits seem to garner far less attention among education technocrats than do vouchers. Yet scholarship donation and personal use credits are benefitting more than 5 times as many students as vouchers, though the benefit is generally smaller. Credit programs are growing faster than vouchers, on average, and seem to enjoy more bi‐​partisan support — certainly when it comes to programs not limited to special‐​needs students.

I’m sure the upcoming Fordham event will be interesting, almost as much for what it will omit as what it will include.