Arizona is often the whipping boy of national education statistics. Our miserable ranking in per-pupil spending vs. being one of the top states in the nation for administrative spending has understandably given a lot of folks good reason to lose faith in the system.
But a report this week shows the Grand Canyon State easily outpaces the rest of the nation in one educational category that some claim is the ultimate answer to our school system woes: choice.
The Manhattan Institute this week reported no other state in the Union can match Arizona when it comes to the myriad educational choices available to families and the ease with which we can make such choices.
No doubt, the charter school movement has opened countless doors unavailable to previous generations. It is one of many elements of the Manhattan Institute study that ranks Arizona No. 1 in the nation in terms of how freely parents can choose to educate their children.
In addition to the varied charter school choices, Arizona earned high marks in its relatively light regulation of home schooling, the private school tax credit available to parents and its unrestricted inter-district school choice program.
The Index looked at variables such as the availability of charter school options; the availability of government assisted private school options (vouchers); the ease with which one can home school one's child; the ease with which one can choose a different public school district by relocating; and the ease with which one can send a child to a different public school district without changing residence.
If choice is the answer to solving Arizona’s otherwise beleaguered education system, this study would indicate we are on the right track.
The study may be accessed at http://www.manhattan-institute.org.
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