National School Boards Association highlights choices in public schools

By Mel Leonor

The U.S. public school system offers more options and opportunities for students than private schools, according to a report released by the National School Boards Association today.

The report highlights school choice and curriculum choices for students within public school districts, arguing that public education “is not the monolith its critics make it out to be.” Discussions around private school vouchers, tax credit scholarships and Education Savings Accounts, the authors argue, miss the “fundamental reality” that “most public school districts already offer a wide range of choices.”

According to the report, 70 percent of public high schools offer Advanced Placement courses, compared to 51 percent of private schools. Fifty-five percent of public high schools offer distance learning programs, while only 28 percent of private schools do.

The report says 86 percent of public elementary and middle schools offer before-or-after-school services, compared to 76 percent of private schools. In high school, the rate for public schools is 71 percent, compared to the 64 percent rate for private schools.

When it comes to the choice of a school, the report notes 43 states allow the creation of charter schools, while 38 states and D.C. have magnet schools. The report says that 65 percent of public school students have the option to transfer schools within their districts or to neighboring districts.

“The local schools our children and grandchildren attend don’t look at all like the ones we attended,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas Gentzel.

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