School choice is a very important issue at IWF and this morning, our vice president Carrie Lukas tackles a key nuance of the school choice debate:  the benefits school choice offers to the middle class.


Over at Townhall.com, Carrie talks about the Democrats (and all politicians, really) obsession with making promises to the middle class.  But if they really want to alleviate the burden on the middle class, they should embrace school choice:


“If Democrats listen to the authors of their recently released report, ‘Increasing Pressure on the Middle Class,’ there is the chance for bipartisan agreement on one agenda item to ease the middle Americans financial strain: education reform and school choice.


“Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, who wrote the report highlighted by Senate Democrats, also wrote a book called The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke. In their book, Warren and Tyagi highlight why parents make significant financial sacrifices-and take significant risks-to pay for an expensive home: they want to give their children the best start possible, and ‘the best possible start begins with good schools, but parents are scrambling to find those schools.’


“The problem is that where children attend school, for the most part, is dictated by where they live. Parents unhappy with their local public school can either opt out of the public school system and pay private school tuition, or can move residences. During the last decade, housing costs have climbed overall, but parents have been particularly affected as families bid up home prices in the few areas that offer high quality public schools. Warren and Tyagi’s recent report reiterates the important role housing plays in family finances. Housing remains a family’s biggest expense and the costs of owning and maintaining a home have increased by 23 percent (or more than $300 a month) during the past 5 years.


“What can policymakers do to address this problem? In The Two Income Trap, Warren and Tyagi offer policymaker clear advise: ‘Any policy that loosens the ironclad relationship between location-location-location and school-school-school would eliminate the need for parents to pay an inflated price for a home just because in happens to lie within the boundaries of a desirable school district. A well-designed voucher program would fit the bill neatly.’ Policymakers across the country have been taking this advice. There are a growing number of programs that give parents new ways to select schools for their children. According to the Heritage Foundation, 40 states and the District of Columbia have charter schools, which are alternative public schools that parents can select for their children, and thirteen states now have voucher programs or education tax credit programs that are designed to help parents afford private schools. In all, more than a million children are attending charter or private schools of choice this school year.”