March 9, 2023

Will School Choice Solve Our Public School Woes?

It’s worth discussing the pros and cons of school choice openly and sincerely.

The popularity of school choice has increased since parents became reengaged in their child’s public school education. The COVID-19 pandemic opened parents’ eyes to the indoctrination of gender identity and critical race theory while students were falling behind academically. Many disenfranchised parents made the decision to pull their children from their failing public school and turned to private school or homeschooling.

In 2023, we see states attempting to pass legislation that will enable tax dollars to follow their students. States like South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas have pending legislation or constitutional amendments to give parents the choice of where to send their child to school. Supporters of school choice say that allowing the funding to follow the student will create competition and innovation in education. Furthermore, this education model will force public schools to think before they enact woke policies that focus on race and gender identity rather than academic excellence.

It is inarguable that every child in our country must have the opportunity to receive the best education. Our country must lead on the education front, and we should be the envy of other countries when it comes to education. It is also inarguable that for the most part, parents are their child’s first teacher, and they know what is best for their child. School choice has become a conservative talking point on the campaign trail, with many politicians stating that this is how we fix public schools in America. If this is true, why are some conservative parents against school choice?

Most conservative parents against school choice identify as homeschool parents who decided to educate their children independently, without government interference. The thought of school choice makes them uneasy because government money always comes with strings attached. This population of conservative parents also points to Sweden’s restrictions on homeschooling. According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, in 2011 Sweden severely restricted a family’s ability to homeschool, and “Families who had been home educating successfully for many years prior to 2011 were suddenly denied permission and threatened with the social authorities and fines of up to 20,000 euros per child and year.”

In addition, some parents who have opted for private school after pulling their child from public school have realized that their new private school also has a pervasive woke agenda. Fox News reported that The Brearley School in New York City, an all-girls prep school, required parents and students to take anti-racist training and sign an anti-racist statement. Private schools are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and don’t have to disclose much information when parents are shopping for options. When parents discover woke agendas in a private school, they are left with regret and a big bill.

Will school choice solve our public school woes? Should homeschooling parents be concerned about government overreach when it comes to their child’s homeschool education? Both sides may be on to something, and it’s worth discussing the pros and cons of school choice openly and sincerely.

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