On March 7, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill making Alabama the 11th state since 2011 to enact universal school choice. With its approval, it doesn’t matter if families choose to enroll at a public or private school, or to homeschool—Alabama’s state funding for those children will follow them to the school of their choosing.
Thirty-four states now offer some form of school choice allowing parents to direct public money to the school of their choosing.

New York families, though, can only dream of this reality—but we have enough data to show that New Yorkers also want options beyond the local district school for their kids.

A report by the Empire Center shows that in the last 10 years homeschool enrollment in New York grew 178 percent. New York was the second state with the highest growth in families choosing to homeschool—even though New York families don’t receive any financial support to homeschool and face one of the highest regulatory burdens in the nation to do so. There are now more than 50,000 students being homeschooled in New York, with 14,000 just in New York City.
Charter schools, which are publicly funded but managed by independent boards, currently educate more than 170,000 students in New York and have grown enrollment by 125 percent in the last decade. This expansion has happened despite charter schools receiving less per pupil funding than traditional district schools and a cap on the number of schools that can be opened in New York City.
Last year a few New York City council members proposed a bill to study the feasibility of offering a $10,000 reimbursement to families who decide not to enroll in public schools. That would be a first step in supporting all the New York City families that are not being served by the public school system and would make this option available to more students. But we haven’t seen any similar bills being proposed in Albany.

National polls show that there is overwhelming support for school choice: more than 70 percent of the public supports the concept. New York lawmakers should listen to the public and follow other states in letting families decide what is the best education for their kids. A family-friendly law would provide the financial support necessary to make families’ education decisions a reality and remove the regulatory barriers preventing the growth of charter schools and homeschooling in New York.

Read the commentary in the Epoch Times.

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