The sphere of influence that parents have on their children’s education will determine whether the American culture adheres to parental oversight in education or abdicates the responsibility to the government. The responsibility relies on the parents, whose role is to nurture, raise, and remain actively engaged in their children’s lives. It’s from this place that a child engages culture as a productive and influential citizen.
In her article, guest blogger, Ms. Hannah Hill, explains various components in the debate, depicting the benefits in school choice for parents, children, and the nation. Enjoy!
School choice. Say those two words in public and you’ll bring out a swarm of irate government bureaucrats, upset schoolteachers, and angry homeschool moms. Yikes.
In a nutshell, school choice is the idea that at least part of the tax money parents pay for their children’s education should follow that child. Here are three reasons why that’s a good thing, and the answers to three common myths that surround the topic of school choice.
Three reasons to support school choice:
1: It respects the jurisdiction of parents.
It’s the duty of parents, not government, to educate children. The ability to use part of their education tax money for their own children, regardless of where they’re being educated, is financially liberating to parents. Parents know what is best for them and want to see their children succeed. Government should respect that.
2. It respects the property ($$$) of the taxpayers.
This one should be a no-brainer. Parents pay taxes to educate their children. If it’s their tax money, shouldn’t they a) have a say in how it’s used, and b) be able to use at least part of it for their own children? It’s unjust to ask parents to pay twice for education: once for the general education fund, and again for their own children’s education if they aren’t in public schools.
3. It improves public education through competition.
Right now, public schools enjoy a government-protected monopoly on education. Students are locked into poor schools because their parents can’t afford any option other than the local public school. School choice would change that.
If public schools had to compete with private schools, imagine what that would do for overall education. Public schools would be forced to reexamine their approaches and implement changes that would improve educational quality. The schools that deserve to fail would do so, while the schools that are doing a great job would enjoy the success they deserve.
Three common school choice myths:
1. School choice = vouchers.
A lot of people hate the idea of vouchers, and automatically assume that’s what you’re talking about when you mention school choice. It’s not the purpose of this article to explore the voucher idea, but there are a number of other ideas to implement school choice, such as tax credits. Vouchers are only one of the possible ways to reach the desired end.
2. It’s only for home schoolers.
School choice benefits anyone who wants to pursue education outside of public schools. That includes private schools as well as home schools. And by introducing competition into the educational arena, school choice improves the field for everyone.
3. It will damage public education by robbing them of their funding.
It will not either. Next?
Seriously. 🙂 This is perhaps the worst misunderstanding regarding school choice out there. The fact of the matter is that most school choice proposals only funnel a small portion of education funding away from the public schools.
Additionally, of the money spent on education, only a fraction goes to the classroom. In my home state of South Carolina (which ranks 50th out of the rest of the states in education), only $0.44 out of each dollar goes to the classroom, out of the $13,000.00 spent per child per year. Two takeaways here:
1.Throwing lots of money at education isn’t going to guarantee quality education.
2.Overhead and bureaucracy are a much greater danger to classroom funding that any school choice plan.
To sum up, school choice puts the focus back on quality education and moves power back to the people instead of government. And there you have the reason so many government bureaucrats fight it tooth and nail. After all, when children are educated, they are less vulnerable to government propaganda and more wary of attempts to violate our rights.
Perhaps James Madison summed it up well:
“The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing.”