School choice advocates look for another year of expansion

Unable to gain large-scale advances in the Oklahoma Legislature over the last few years, school choice advocates have instead focused on small gains that have slowly expanded the state’s voucher program to specific student groups.

Launched in 2010, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program offered state funding for children with special needs to attend private schools, which 528 students utilized during the 2016-17 school year.

Last year, the program was expanded to include foster care children.

This year, advocates for the program and other school choice policies would like to see the scholarship program expanded to more student groups.

“I’d like it to be (expanded) to children of veterans, the other possibility is homeless kids,” said Bill Price, a member of the state Board of Education and a supporter of school choice policies. “There are some other student populations that are particularly sympathetic, and that is probably the direction to go until we get enough momentum to get the full-fledged education savings account.”

Education savings accounts, also referred to as school vouchers, remain the ultimate goal for the biggest supporters of school choice.

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