Fuller, Coulson and Ladner: Three Views on the Best Choice Policies to Pursue

Perhaps it’s just the school choice geek in me (ok, the school choice geek is me!), but I want to bring your attention to a worthwhile and important discussion. A couple weeks ago redefinED posted comments made by the longtime voucher supporter Dr. Howard Fuller at the recent American Federation for Children national summit. He eloquently reiterated his views that private educational choice programs should be means-tested and targeted to lower-income students.

Responding to Dr. Fuller, who represents the social justice wing of the school choice movement, redefinED asked the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson to provide a thoughtful response from the libertarian wing. Last week’s Coulson column hones on the need to create “universal access to the educational marketplace” while reducing the problem of having a third party pay for the schooling service. Not surprisingly, he comes down in favor of direct tax credits for middle-class families and scholarship tax credits for poorer families.

Today, Dr. Matt Ladner chimes in to offer a compelling case of where the school choice movement should go from here. He strongly supports universal choice, but advocates for a weighted system that underwrites more for students in poverty. As one of the earliest backers of the publicly-funded Education Savings Account model, he explains how it can help alleviate the third-party payer problem. Finally, Ladner notes that choice supporters “need to be more far more ambitious in promoting policies that will foster innovative private-school models.”

So there you have it. Three eminent, thoughtful leaders in the school choice movement with three distinct points of view. I may be inclined to agree with one more than the other two, but I’m not going to let on here. Maybe you can figure it out on your own. The main thing is we need to keep pressing forward to provide a wider range of quality learning options for all students.