General Education Certificate.
Parents receive an education scholarship certificate (from the state, from their local school district, or from both, depending upon a finance plan the Legislature has yet to adopt) redeemable at the public school of their choice, anywhere in the state where they find a school with space to accept their child. This method of finance establishes the principle of aiding parents with children, rather than directly aiding schools. Parents would no longer have to secure the release of home district officials before public dollars could follow the student to his or her school of choice.
In this "choice" system, existing public schools would give first preference to children from within existing district lines. Space limitations will, especially in the near-term, act as a barrier to full choice, but measures to free up the supply of schools, such as the creation of charter public schools (see Pillar IV, below), will ameliorate the problem over time.
In Minnesota, statewide public school choice has not lead to massive disruptions or migrations. In fact, less than five percent of parents have availed themselves of the choice option, partly because public schools heretofore had not sought to foster diversity in their offerings. But just as a restaurant does not have to lose all its customers for the chef to get the message to improve the menu, so it is that the prospect of even minor movement within the public school system will prompt needed innovations.
Parents receive a transportation certificate, which could be used for transportation to any public or private school. This could also be structured as a tax credit.
Special Education Certificate.
Parents of children needing Special Education services would receive a Special Education certificate with which to purchase services depending upon the special needs of the child.
Education Credit Account.
As an incentive to parents who select not only good schools, but cost-efficient schools, an Education Credit Account (ECA) should be established in Lansing whenever a parent chooses a school whose "cost" falls below that parent's total scholarship certificate amount. That difference represents the amount of "unused" certificate and would be credited on the books in Lansing on behalf of the child, accumulating as the child progresses through school.
Credits remaining after completion of high school become tax credits parents may utilize to assist in the funding of their child's college or vocational training at either a public or private institution. The difference between the discounted value of the future tax credit and the amount of the unused certificate in any year represents a savings to the taxpayer in that year.