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June 2, 2023

School Choice Gaining Momentum

Several states across the nation are letting parents have control of school funds to steer their child’s education.

Education is one of the most important aspects of having a functioning society. Good education for everyone seems like a fairly uncontroversial proposal. Unfortunately, we live in a world where not all educational institutions are created equal.

Public schools in the inner cities and rural outer ranges are much worse off than schools in the hearts of thriving suburbs. Private schools are expensive and have the right to choose who they do or don’t accept. Charter schools are largely on a lottery system. Homeschooling comes with tremendous advantages but ultimately is also expensive.

There is a solution to this education gridlock and it’s called school choice.

School choice puts the tax dollars set aside for a child’s education back in the hands of the parents. This allows for parents to have an opportunity to put their child in a school that actually educates them. It frees inner-city minority families from failing institutions. Finally, it grants affordability to parents who have the willingness and ability to homeschool.

This seems like an incredibly good idea and one that would hold public schools accountable for their own actions and indoctrination. It would also break the grip of the mafia-like teachers unions. Most importantly, it places the onus on parents to give their children the best chance of academic success. What could possibly be the downside?

There are a few interesting points that legislators should give thought to when passing school choice bills. First of all, if taxpayer funds are used to pay private schools, would that open the door for government interference? And if parents want to send their child to a religious or more conservative school, can the government come in and pervert that or shut down the school on the grounds that it is bankrolling that student?

Another potential objection to the school choice alternative is the balance of accountability/autonomy. Once parents receive back the money for their child’s education, does the government then have a right to demand an account of how that money was spent? That could potentially lead to the government ultimately controlling the educational choices of the parents, which is precisely the opposite of the desired outcome. School choice should be about granting more educational freedom and less government regulation.

Clearly, many of the schools that the government controls are already failing many students. Parents are sick and tired of watching their hard work, moral training, and academic expectations be undermined by the public school system. Many states agree.

Eight states have implemented some form of school choice for their residents. Florida and Iowa have had universal school choice since the early 2000s, which skyrocketed them from the lowest-achieving states in student academics to top three by 2019. The other six states have forms of education savings accounts that are limited to lower- and middle-income families, or for children with special needs.

New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Texas will soon join the ranks of the pro-school-choice states. This week, bills were voted on, and terms were negotiated and fine-tuned.

Then there is poor North Carolina. State legislators there have been dealing with the rogue and unruly Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Cooper recently vetoed a school choice bill, but the state legislature is expected to override his veto. Cooper declared a state of emergency. This grants Cooper emergency powers such as “flexibility to respond to exigent circumstances, including the reallocation of state and federal funds,” according to the National Governors Association. “Further, emergency declarations allow Governors to temporarily modify their state’s statutory, regulatory, and legal framework to respond to the changing nature of an emergency more quickly.”

In other words, the North Carolina governor is attempting to abuse executive power, although the state legislature does have some checks in place to override Cooper’s hissy fit. Lawmakers can, by majority vote, nullify an emergency proclamation (which will probably happen).

Overall, the positive push toward school choice in all these states is such good news for parents. We look forward to these states seeing a constructive academic change for their students in the coming years.

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