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“There’s a messed up set of incentives that’s baked into the K-12 public school system where they get your money regardless of whether they open their doors for business,” says Corey A. DeAngelis, director of school choice for Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason. “Teachers unions had an incentive to keep their doors closed.” Frustration with the slow pace of school reopening is driving parents to look for alternatives to traditional, residential-assignment schools in historic numbers. Over a dozen state legislatures are considering bills that would massively expand publicly funded school choice options ranging from increasing the number of charter schools to education savings accounts (ESAs) to “backpack funding,” in which public dollars follow kids to whatever schools they attend. The pandemic, says DeAngelis, may well accomplish what decades’ worth of white papers and school reform activism never did: an education system that puts student needs ahead of teachers unions and education bureaucrats.
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