Four Things Sen. Alexander Says the Feds Can Do to Expand School Choice
The chairman of the U.S. Senate education committee has four ideas for how the federal government can help foster school choice—something that's usually driven by policy at the state level.
Speaking at a Washington event held to release the Brookings Institution's 2014 Education Choice and Competition Index, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the bottom line should be to "put the money in the kid's backpack."
So, what can the feds do now to help that happen? Here are Alexander's suggestions:
- Allow states to use federal dollars to create scholarships to follow low-income students to any school of their choice;
- Allow students with disabilities to spend the federal dollars allocated to them on schools of their choice;
- Expand the District of Columbia's school voucher program, called the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is funded by Congress;
- Encourage the expansion of high-quality charter schools in the states through federal grant programs.
Both Alexander and fellow Senate Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina are pushing legislation that would tackle the first three items on that list.
At the Brookings event, Alexander also talked about testing mandates and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. My colleague on the federal education beat, Alyson Klein, has more on that in the Politics K-12 blog.