The week of January 22 – 26 is National School Choice Week. Millions participated across the nation. States from Connecticut to Oregon, and even President Trump all pledged their contribution. The week is designed to promote the freedom for parents to decide the education for their child be it public, private, charter, home, or even virtual.
School choice is a personal issue for me. I grew up in a city which consistently ranked as one of the worst school districts in the state of Massachusetts. Thankfully, I had access to school choice through vouchers and my parents chose an institution that set me on a road to success.
That being said, school choice is not a simple commitment to charter schools or restructured school funding. There are terrific charter and public schools, but there are also terrible charter and public schools. Rather, school choice is the belief that parents, who know their child best, will make the right decision, not the 4,400 workers at the Department of Education.
Statistics show that parents do in fact know best. According to a study by the Cato institute, school choice programs lead to a “highly statistically significant” difference in reading and math scores; this means that parents are choosing well. Additionally, according to edchoice.org, “29 studies find that [school] choice improved the performance of nearby public schools.”
Thankfully, school choice is expanding. In the 2016 – 2017 year, there were almost 3.1 million students enrolled in a charter school, triple the amount from 2006 – 2007. In 2012, there were 1.77 million students who were homeschooled, up by 18% since 2007. However, there are still eight states that have no laws in place to allow charter schools, and there were over a million students on charter school waitlists in the 2013- 2014 academic year.
The recent tax bill included an expansion of the 529 college savings accounts, allowing parents to use these funds towards private school tuition. Senator Ted Cruz’s amendment to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will also help 50 million students to save tax-free tuition for K-12 public and private education.
Why are students bound to a school because of a zip code? If parents have the resources to send their child to a different school district, why stop them? It’s ridiculous that schools constantly fail our students in reading, writing, math and graduation rates continue to receive funding and a protected monopoly over students in a geographic area. To continue this path is the definition of insanity.
Instead of giving more money to failing schools, put that money into school choice vouchers. Allow parents to choose and the market to pressure the schools that are failing.
According to the School Choice Week website, there were over 32,000 events across the country. Use #schoolchoice to help spread awareness.
Future generations need to be allowed more choices for education. It just might be enough to save our failing school districts.