No. Public and private restrictions to admission will continue unchanged under the Educational Freedom Act. For example, most public schools only accept students who reside within the district. This is known as “ZIP Code discrimination.” Some school districts accept inter-district transfers or Parent Employment Related Transfers. Changes to admission policies will be up to the school district under local control. This will continue unchanged under the Education Freedom Act. Likewise, private schools have their own admission standards and tuition requirements which must be met. Parents will be free to send their children to a private school and apply their scholarship credit towards the payment of tuition making up any difference out of their own pockets. The school will not, however, be required to accept the annual scholarship credit as full payment of tuition.
Yes and no. The Educational Freedom Act makes no special provision for home-schooling families. Parents can only use scholarship funds to educate their K-12 children at public schools, charter schools or accredited private or parochial schools. Many home-schooling families have already adapted to this reality by taking courses from accredited institutions such as community colleges or charter schools.
However, this does not mean that students being home-schooled will not receive the scholarship credit. The Act would permit home-schooled students to accumulate the entire annual scholarship credit and save it for college or other qualified educational expenses. Thus, a home-schooled student would theoretically be able to accumulate his annual scholarship from kindergarten through 12th grade. Even if the scholarship credit remains fixed at $12,000 per year, a home-schooled student would accumulate $195,000 in principal over 13 years all of which could be used for in-state college or vocational training of his or her choice.
Generally, the passage of the Education Freedom Act will have no structural impact on the current public school system. The proposed initiative will not degrade the public school system in any way; it will only make schools and school districts more competitive in order to deliver a product their customers demand. The current California educational system will be preserved intact. The local school districts will continue to be operated as they are now. They can continue to choose which students they will accept (also known as ZIP Code discrimination). They will continue to hire their own teachers and employees. With voter approval, they will continue to be able to float bond issues to construct school facilities and pass) parcel taxes earmarked for schools.
The only difference is that the bulk of the revenue will come from parents who enter into contracts with the local public school using the credit from their child’s Educational Savings Account. In brief, very little will change and yet everything will change because of the introduction of competition into the California education system.
Because California public schools are, on average, the worst in the country, families will flee these failing schools in large numbers. Reduced student populations will undoubtedly lead to reductions in teaching and support staff. These job losses in the public sector will also undoubtedly be offset by job opportunities in the private sector. Unquestionably, under-performing teachers will have a tough time securing employment in the private productive educational sector. This is a good thing. One of the many reasons that public schools are failing is because of their medieval civil service and tenure system.
Excellent schools will tend to thrive and grow stronger. Failing schools will decline in enrollment. Initially, students in failing schools may have to travel to attend an excellent charter, private or religious schools. As classroom space becomes available in the failing public schools, they will be absorbed by expanding and new higher performing non-public schools.
Under the Education Freedom Act, parents will pick the school they feel offers the best learning experience for their children. Public schools will now have to participate in the miracle of the free market to survive. Public education will be forced to dramatically improve. The logical first move for public schools would be to stop preventing students from attending schools outside their zip code.