On March 29, the Center on Children and Families released its fifth annual Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI)—a ranking of school choice in the nation’s 100 largest school districts. At Brookings, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos highlighted the importance of school choice and the value of ECCI.
ECCI author and Brookings Senior Fellow Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst began the event by highlighting the growth of choice across the nation’s school districts. According to trends tracked by ECCI, many of which have been observed since 2000, Whitehurst noted that the proportion of large school districts allowing choice has nearly doubled over the past 16 years. That coincides with other measures of the growth of school choice, including that the number of large districts for which charter school enrollment is at least 30 percent of total public enrollment has increased from one to ten.
Secretary DeVos touted the importance of ECCI and measuring education options for parents and students, which she believes is a “fundamental right too long denied to too many kids.”
DeVos also explored the fact that the ECCI rankings do not impose good or bad value judgments on school districts but instead focus on the amount of choice available for parents seeking schools best suited to their children. For example, she explained, “New Orleans and Denver both receive A’s but they arrive there in very different ways.”
Secretary DeVos highlighted three reasons that she is passionate about school choice:
- “Parents know what is best for their kids and no parent should be denied the opportunity to send their son or daughter to a school where they feel confident he or she is going to learn in a safe and learning and growing environment.”
- “Good teachers know what’s best for the students in their classrooms”
- “State and local leaders are best equipped to address the unique challenges they face, not the federal government.”
The event also included a discussion between Whitehurst and Secretary DeVos, as well as audience questions answered by the Secretary.