Celebrating National School Choice Week

Posted on January 22, 2024


This week is National School Choice Week, and from January 21st – 27th, we are recognizing the ongoing fight for school choice in Connecticut. The fight for school choice is a fight for equity, a fight for freedom of choice, and a fight to empower students and families with the best tools to be successful as lifelong engaged citizens and learners.

Below, you can read about our fight for school choice in Connecticut, how it benefits students and families, the costs to taxpayers, and some of our legislative initiatives with the session quickly approaching.

In Connecticut, parents generally have six choices for educating their child, which may be limited based on the municipality. Most children attend traditional free public school. While it works for some, not everyone can thrive in such an environment. Others choose to attend private schools, technical or magnet schools, or elect for homeschooling.

Parents need choices for their children and the state has allowed the educational gap to widen since the pandemic shutdowns.

Simply spending more per pupil has not and will not work.

Everyone agrees we need to do better, whether it is some form of more charter schools, magnet schools and technical schools, or vouchers.

There are over 400 private k-12 schools in Connecticut, but not every family can afford the tuition, which averages $23,000 for elementary schools and $41,000 for high schools.

That’s why we are working hard to let funding follow the child in Connecticut. With a small state investment in each student, Connecticut could make better use of its education funds to unlock every pupil’s full attention.

Public schools are disproportionately hurting Connecticut’s urban youth population.

Kolbe Cathedral, a co-ed Catholic high school in Bridgeport, displays a staggering contrast to the Bridgeport Public Schools in two important metrics. With the cost per pupil at Kolbe Cathedral less than half of its public school counterpart, it boasts a 100% graduation rate compared to almost 75% from the local public high schools.

These are among a general trend of growing unfavorable outcomes for students at public schools – mostly students of color from lower income households.

Research from the American Federation for Children shows that school choice programs improve outcomes for students, save taxpayers money, and decrease segregation in affected school systems.

More than 20 charter schools have opened in Connecticut since being allowed by legislation in 1996 but no new charter schools since 2015. Danbury’s charter was approved in 2018 after the same rigorous process that all other large cities have opened their charters. Funding for a charter in Middletown was also pulled from the budget during the 2023 legislative session.

The fight for school choice is to be had at the State Capitol. That’s why my House Republican colleagues and I are constantly advocating for legislative solutions.

After our proposed tax credit to support students seeking a better educational opportunity was rejected in committee by the majority, they shifted their focus to defeating an amendment proposal that would fund the already-approved Danbury charter school.

My colleague, Rep. Rachel Chaleski of Danbury, was the architect of this legislation and joins me as a staunch advocate for bridging students’ achievement gap, empowering families, and defending the right to choose in Connecticut.