School choice is emerging to give families multiple options regarding education. Even though homeschool was a major means of obtaining education before the 1940s, it dropped in popularity after communities adopted tax-funded public (government) schools. However, homeschool has again become popular across America. An estimated two and a half million children currently home-educate under supervision of their parents and homeschool support groups. The vast majority of homeschooled families prefer values-based curriculum.
Thousands of private academies sponsored by churches and 501 (c) (3) organizations began to emerge during the 1970s. Parents pay tuition, plus provide transportation and additional fees to keep their children enrolled. Some private schools are very expensive, charging thousands of dollars per year. Others operate on “shoe string” budgets that allow families with slim budgets to send their children to alternative private schools based on traditional family values. Lists of private schools in particular states are available on the internet.
Charter schools were introduced in the 1990s, and began to grow in popularity in most states. Charters are public schools managed by private organizations. Financial support is a combination of private money and taxes that flow through state departments of education. Charters are “free”, and do not charge tuition for students to attend. Charter staff usually include certified teachers and curriculum approved by state agencies. However, charters have some “wiggle room” regarding instructional materials and systems, including individualized learning through print, digital, and teacher-led instruction. Most charters are patterned after traditional public schools, but can specialize in programs, such as individualized learning, athletics, art, drama, or preparation for Olympic competition. Therefore, many parents opt to send their children to charters, rather than to regular public schools. An estimated three million students attend charters.
Other forms of school choice include:
- Magnet schools (public schools specializing in “blue-collar” careers),
- Micro-campuses (private schools based on independent learning under guidance of professional educators),
- School-within-a-school (public or private learning center sponsored by an existing campus, usually designed for credit-recovery and/or disciplinary purposes),
- School-home learning centers (a combination of parent-led and proctor-directed individualized learning in which academic work is done at home under the guidance of a public school, private academy, or homeschool support group.
A growing trend among school options include tuition-tax credits, scholarships, and vouchers with which states provide financial assistance to families with children trapped in under-serving public schools. Parents in dozens of states can qualify for financial assistance to enroll children in private academies approved by state officials. Financial assistance usually ties tax credits to individuals, organizations, and corporations that sponsor students to attend private academies.
Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC) provides training, guidance, forms, and curriculum for the above school choices. Interested parties can inquire at [email protected] for details.