School Choice Programs Talking Points

Families have had educational options for over 150 years. In 1991, Wisconsin became the first state to create a school voucher program and Minnesota created the first charter school program. School choice options include intradistrict public school choice (attending another public school in the same school district)interdistrict public school choice (attending another public school in a different school district), charter schools, and magnet schools within public school systems, as well as voucher or scholarship programs, tax credits or deductions, and education savings accounts among private choice options. Currently, there are 65 choice programs operating in 28 states and the District of Columbia.  

In recent years, the federal government and some states have supported using public funding for private and parochial schools, vouchers, and scholarship options. Utilizing public funding for private options has led to decreased funding for public education and, in some cases, loss of protections, supports, and services for children with disabilities.  

ASHA supports maintaining funding for public school programs and holding school choice programs accountable to the same standards as publicly funded schools. Schools participating in a school choice program should be held accountable to the same standards as public schools but those with designed programs that address select disabilities should not be penalized for not accepting students with other disabilities.  

ASHA also supports family choice options if parent(s)/guardian(s) understand the opportunities and consequences of their choices. 

Educational audiologists and SLPs can help inform parents/guardians of the services provided in public school vs. school choice programs. 

  • Educate parents on options for their child with disabilities so that they can make an informed decision when choosing the education program that best meets the needs of their child and familyFor example, a child with a disability who has an individualized education program (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), may not have access to the same services and supports in a school choice program 
  • IDEA requires the provision of free and appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes the provision special education and related services that are provided at public expense, meet state educational standards and are defined in the child’s IEP. See the IDEA statue reference on FAPE.  
  • Share the Tips for Considering School Choice Options with parents and families to help them ask questions about school choice options and to ensure that they are fully informed about the opportunities and consequences of those decisions.

Educational audiologists and SLPs can advocate for adequate funding for services to remain in public schools. 

School choice programs that access public funding can deprive the school district of the financial support it needs to carry out the specialized programs for children with special needs under federal law. Public funding that follows the child to a school choice program needs to be returned to the public school program if the family or choice school feels that it cannot meet the needs of the child/family. 

Educational audiologists and SLPs can ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive the services and supports in school choice programs that they received in public schools. 

Advocate for school choice programs that receive public funding to adhere to the same requirements of public programs including, but not limited to: 

  • aligning student achievement standards with public programs; 
  • providing the full range of special and general education services; 
  • ensuring that qualified professionals are employed who meet state education standards; 
  • upholding access for all children including those with disabilities; 
  • ensuring the maintenance of free appropriate public education (FAPE); and 
  • ensuring that privacy protections are upheld. 


ASHA Corporate Partners