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Educating America: The power of choice

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The expansion of school choice in Washington, D.C., and its success with students is sending public school principals on a task not listed in their job description: They're going door to door to recruit and retain students in the nation's capital, where charter schools now account for 44 percent of total enrollment.

“In this era of school choice, families have become consumers and educators have become marketers as responsible for selling their academic offering as they are for teaching and learning,” The Washington Post reports.

And that benefits public schools, as well. Researchers in Florida, for example, found a tax-credit program prompted changes and improved student performance before students switched schools, reports Lindsey Burke for The Daily Signal.

In Milwaukee, public schools' student achievement improved as a school voucher program advanced.

Chalk this up to the power of competition. But to exert this positive pressure, the “choice” threshold must reach at least 6 percent of a district's students, according to a Stanford economist.

And there's the rub. From D.C. to Harrisburg, the public school edutocracy has stubbornly resisted all avenues for school choice in preservation of its own miserable monopoly.

For what Pennsylvanians spend on public education, the proven benefits of school choice should prevail. And school principals here, as well, should be knocking on doors.

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