School choice in Minnesota

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School choice refers to the educational alternatives available to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local district public school to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools and charter schools. Other options include traditional school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, personal tax credits and deductions and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to receive public funds directly for educational expenses.[1][2]

School choice options in Minnesota include: charter schools, school choice tax credits, an inter-district open enrollment policy and online learning programs. In addition, about 9.57 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 1.80 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Educational choice options

See also: Number of schools by school type in the U.S.

Charter schools

In 1992, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to operate charter schools. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there were 148 charter schools operating in the state in the 2012-13 academic year. During that time, charter schools enrolled 41,243 students.[3][4][5]

Charter school authorizers are, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the organizations "designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools." As of June 2014, the following organizations were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Minnesota:[6]

Minnesota charter school authorizers
Organization Authorizer type Number of schools overseen
Audubon Center of the North Woods Not-for-profit 35
Augsburg College Department of Education Higher education institution 6
Bethel University Higher education institution 6
Chisago Lakes School District 2144 Local education agency 1
St. Catherine University Department of Education Higher education institution 1
Concordia Univerisity Higher education institution 8
Faribault School District Local education agency 1
Fraser Foundation Not-for-profit 1
Friends of Education - Minnesota Not-for-profit 17
Germanic-American Institute Not-for-profit 1
N/A Not-for-profit 16
Intermediate School District 917 Local education agency 1
Minneapolis Public School District #1 Local education agency 5
N/A Not-for-profit 0
Northfield Public Schools Local education agency 2
Novation Education Opportunities Not-for-profit 15
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts Higher education institution 1
Pillsbury United Communities Not-for-profit 20
Project for Pride in Living Not-for-profit 3
N/A Higher education institution 1
N/A Local education agency 1
Student Achievement Minnesota Not-for-profit 3
N/A Higher education institution 1
University of St. Thomas Higher education institution 6
Upper Midwest American Indian Center Not-for-profit 1
Volunteers of America - Minnesota Not-for-profit 16
Winona Area Public Schools Local education agency 2
Wolf Ridge Environmental Local education agencyrning Center Not-for-profit 1
Note: If the total number of charter schools accounted for in this table differs from the total number listed elsewhere on this page, the discrepancy owes to differing calculation methods and data sources.
Source: National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Minnesota Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014

Tax credits

According to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Minnesota provides for school choice programs via tax credits and deductions:[7]

  • K-12 Education Credit: The state provides this tax credit for educational expenses for students in any private or public school (including homeschooling). The credit reduces total tax liability and covers books, tutors, academic after-school programs, and other non-tuition expenses. The credit is capped at $1,000 per student. The income limit for the tax credit program is $37,500 for a family with one or two children. For each additional child over two, the limit is increased by $2,000.[8]
  • Education Deduction: The state provides this tax deduction for educational expenses for students in any private or public school (including homeschooling). The deduction lowers taxable income and covers books, tutors, academic after-school programs, tuition payments at private schools, and other expenses. The deduction is capped at $1,625 per child for students in grades K through six and $2,500 per child for students in grades seven through 12. There is no income limit for this deduction.[9]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, there were 83,608 course enrollments in online learning programs (both full-time and part-time) in the 2012-13 academic year. There are 18 providers approved by the Minnesota Department of Education to offer full-time online education, eight of which are charter schools. Also, as of spring 2013, there were 26 certified online learning public school providers. These figures do not account for single district supplemental programs, as these programs are not legally required to go through approval or reporting processes.[10]

The state-sponsored online learning program is the Minnesota Learning Commons (MnLC). A joint project of the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and the Minnesota Department of Education, MnLC provides access to credit and non-credit courses available through K-20 public schools and higher education institutions.[10]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 80,324 students, or 9.57 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 472 private schools. Minnesota ranks 22nd highest in the nation in private school attendance.[11]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, Minnesota has one inter-district/mandatory enrollment policy.[12]

Intra-district policies provide for the transfer of students within a school district, while inter-district policies allow students to transfer between districts. Under mandatory open enrollment policies, school districts are required to participate. Under voluntary policies, school districts may choose whether to participate.[12]

Homeschooling

In Minnesota in 2012-2013 an estimated 16,679 students, or 1.80 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[13]

A summary of the state's laws relating to homeschooling can be accessed here.

Studies and reports

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

In 2014, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice published a description of and commentary on school choice options in the United States. Regarding the state's Education Deduction, the foundation said, "Minnesota has one of the oldest school choice programs in the country, but unfortunately that age is showing. The deduction amount is far below what would offer truly meaningful choice for parents, especially parents on the lower side of the income scale. Increasing the deduction size would offer a boost to those parents utilizing school choice. A better option would be to allow tuition to also be covered by Minnesota’s tax credit for educational expenses. Mirroring the funding size of Wisconsin’s new tuition tax deduction would move this program in the right direction."[14]

The full report can be accessed here.

School choice ballot measures

See also: School choice on the ballot and List of Minnesota ballot measures

Ballotpedia staff have tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to school choice in Minnesota.

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Minnesota School Choice News Feed

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See also

References

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "School Choice and Charters," accessed June 18, 2014
  2. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, "What is School Choice?" accessed June 18, 2014
  3. Minnesota Department of Education, "Charter Schools," accessed June 23, 2014
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools - Minnesota," accessed June 23, 2014
  5. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Students - Minnesota," accessed June 23, 2014
  6. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Minnesota Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014]
  7. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "School Choice in Minnesota," accessed June 23, 2014
  8. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Minnesota - K-12 Education Credit," accessed June 23, 2014
  9. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Minnesota - Education Deduction," accessed June 23, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, "Minnesota," accessed June 23, 2014
  11. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Private School Universe Survey (PSS)", 2011-12 ; "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, v.1a.," accessed May 12, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 23, 2014
  13. A2Z Home's Cool, "Number of Homeschoolers in the USA," updated February 2, 2014
  14. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "The ABCs of School Choice - 2014 Edition," accessed June 18, 2014