(January 2012) Eighteen states—more than one-third of the U.S.—have school choice programs serving students and parents attending private schools.1  But Arkansas does not have any private choice programs two decades after Wisconsin launched a key program in 1990 in Milwaukee.


School choice programs date to 19th Century New England2 but most state programs inclusive of private schools have been launched since 2000.  Inclusive programs include educational savings accounts, individual tax credits and deductions, tax credit scholarships, and vouchers.


Arkansas has a public school choice that is not as inclusive as diverse programs in states that tolerate private school children and parents.


Arkansas and Mississippi: The Last to Adopt School Choice?


Five states in the region have launched inclusive school choice programs since 2000. They are Florida (2000), Georgia (2007-08), Louisiana (2008), Oklahoma (2010-11) and North Carolina (2011).


Helping Children with Disabilities


One Florida program provides any “student with a disability whose parents are unhappy with their assigned public school” a “voucher to attend a private school or another public school.” Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma and North Carolina offer similar inclusive programs.


1  The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reports the following states and the District of Columbia have school choice programs: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.  http://www.edchoice.org/School-Choice/School-Choice-Programs.aspx


2 Vermont (1869) and Maine (1873) operate town tuition programs that permit students in small towns to qualify for “vouchers to attend public schools in other towns or non-religious private schools, even outside the state.”