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School choice movement gaining momentum in Illinois

Survey finds nearly 54% of parents have recently explored or are currently considering new options for their child's education.

Published: January 26, 2023 6:00pm

Updated: January 28, 2023 10:48pm

(The Center Square) -

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred scores of parents to search for other educational opportunities for their children, and now school choice is gaining a foothold in Illinois.

This is National School Choice Week, a chance for Illinois families to raise awareness about school choice while parents are exploring new schools.

A survey this month by the National School Choice Awareness Foundation showed that nearly 54% of parents have recently explored or are currently considering new options for their child's education.

Shelby Doyle, vice president of public awareness with the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, said the pandemic helped jump-start the effort.

“Parents started voicing their desire for different things and more flexibility coming out of that, and I think legislatures are catching up a year or two after all of that,” Doyle said.

Illinois has fairly flexible open enrollment laws for families wishing to choose another traditional public school in their district. The state also has many public charter and public magnet schools.

According to the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, Illinois offers tax deductions for most students in private or home schools, and state-run scholarships for students under a certain income level. The state does not, however, offer a full-time, statewide online public school option, unlike a majority of U.S. states.

The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which allows school choice in Illinois, is set to expire on Dec. 31. The program gives donors who contribute to a scholarship-granting organization an income tax credit equal to 75% of their donation.

Young Americans for Liberty announced a nationwide mobilization on behalf of educational freedom in celebration of National School Choice Week. YAL has been mobilizing thousands of student activists and supporting members of its Hazlitt Coalition as they advance school choice bills in state legislatures.

“Every single American family, regardless of where they live, regardless of their family’s income, regardless of their learning style, should have educational freedom, and Illinois would be a great state for that to happen,” said Randan Steinhauser, National School Choice Director with YAL.

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