Virginia School Choice Solutions

September 25, 2023

School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic had devastating effects on the educational progress of American schoolchildren, revealed deep inadequacies of the public-school monopoly, and left families feeling powerless about setting the direction of their children’s education. Thankfully, Governor Glenn Youngkin has made school choice his top priority since he started campaigning. He is following through on that promise now by prioritizing several school choice bills, including H.B. 1508, which would enable Virginia students to access $5,000 in Education Savings Account (ESA) funding per year. These funds can be used for private school tuition, school supplies, or even test prep.

Part of Governor Youngkin’s mission is initiating 20 new charter schools in Virginia. To establish new charter schools, school boards must vote yes on a case-by-case basis. AFPI has been working hard to educate Virginia families and policymakers about all the benefits of school choice.

National test results for 2022 show that school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic had a harmful effect on American schoolchildren. For the first time in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), scores in reading and math fell by the largest margin in more than 30 years, and students in Virginia were no exception. See Chart on page 2.

In 2022, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in Virginia:

  • The reading level of 4th grade students who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient in was only 30%.
  • Black 4th grade students had an average reading score that was 29 points lower than that for White students.
  • Hispanic 4th grade students had an average reading score that was 16 points lower than that for White students.
  • Low-income 4th grade students had an average reading score that was 23 points lower than that for students from middle and high income families.

These test scores can have powerful consequences for a generation of children. Reversing these achievement losses will need aggressive action over the next several years. Parents need the ability to leave their government-mandated schools if necessary to help ensure their children have better academic opportunities. School choice is also shown to improve public schools by increasing accountability, fostering competitiveness, and boosting student outcomes. When parents can choose which option best fits their child’s needs, whether that means opting to switch or not, students reap the benefits.

As the AFPI Center for Education Opportunity, Chairman Scott Turner repeatedly states, “No one knows the needs and interests of a child more than their parent or guardian.”

School choice is representative of two core American values—freedom and opportunity. At AFPI, we believe that the purpose of education is to prepare Americans for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As public support for school choice continues to grow, students across the nation will have access to schooling that meets individualized needs, and educational outcomes will improve. Most importantly, parents will be empowered to have a stronger voice in the conversation about their child’s schooling. While the Biden administration tries to stall progress on school choice policies, the Center for Education Opportunity remains highly committed to the school choice mission.

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