Parents know their children best and understand the environment that will help them succeed, and this is why a child’s parents will be the best judge of where their children attend school. It only makes sense that since their children are educated by attending school with their tax dollars, parents can decide what school is the best option for their child.
I believe variety and competition in education will lead to a better education experience. Competition arises through choice, which fosters innovation and results in excellence for our students.
As a parent, ensuring that your child’s education is a top priority. Unfortunately, parents’ control over their children’s education differs greatly depending on where they live. The location of school district lines can divide communities in half, and the results may even be worse because your child doesn’t receive the type of care that will help them thrive in their learning environment.
Choice means Local Achievement
School choice has the potential to increase academic achievement and has been shown to reduce racial and economic segregation drastically.
Education is fundamental to providing mobility in neighborhoods with high crime rates, unemployment, and health problems. Choosing an alternative school can help students escape situations where bullying and gang activity are present, distracting and diminishing their education.
According to a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, participation in school choice programs increased secondary school completion rates among low-income children by 15–20 percent.
It’s my contention that the education playing field is leveled by enabling parents to send their children to the school of their choice regardless of where they live. Parental choice in education keeps the responsibility for decisions centered in the home.
Five Reasons for Parental Choice
Here are my top five top reasons why it is time to empower parents by enacting school choice:
1. Because it Makes Sense
Parents are more likely to be satisfied and involved in their child’s education when they have a choice of schools. After all, they are in the driver’s seat. Most parents who have school choice report being more satisfied with the school their child attends, and this makes perfect sense because the parent is more closely aligned with the creation of outcomes.
2. Choice Eliminates Barriers
Schools can face setbacks due to economic segregation, and school choice provides low-income families with options. It eliminates the arbitrary link between a child’s housing and their ability to attend school. In other words, a family’s ability to afford a home no longer determines their child’s access to education that meets their needs. In turn, this means that school choice provides access to quality education without requiring a family to buy an expensive home or pay twice as much for their child to attend school.
3. Efficient use of Tax Dollars
Additionally, studies have frequently shown that school choice programs can work more effectively to save taxpayer dollars. In general, economic efficiency is created when people have choices. Why would this be any different with education? Of course, the mainstream media’s commonly pushed narrative is that only professional educators are equipped to handle education. Nothing could be further from the truth.
4. Competition Creates Excellence.
School choice options increase the overall quality of local schools since competition is a factor that spurs innovation and improvement. In America, and of course, in Arkansas, we like competition. Whether it’s sports, careers, or education, competition sharpens our individual and collective focus, helps us set priorities, and produces a better outcome.
5. Accountability in Education.
Direct accountability for parents is created when school choice becomes an option. Parents who are not satisfied with their children’s education can take their children and their tax dollars to other schools. Such a system will naturally provide schools with a strong incentive to meet their students’ needs and the needs of a parent(s).
Treat Education Like other Competitive Enterprises
A market-driven, competitive choice in education puts children first, and places parents as direct stakeholders. In contrast, the more centralized and autocratic top-down schools have limited feedback to steer their development. Policymakers should trust parents and educators to innovate and collaborate while meeting the needs of their student population.
In summary, we must recognize that the availability of options in education is a positive development. Education is not a “one-size-fits-all” system, and the best public school won’t work for every student, nor will the best private school work for another. Our student population is no longer the same as years ago.
The educational industry can offer all the different modalities and choices of education that students today want and need. To meet this challenge, all of us have to work together.
This is why we must create school choice programs to work for our citizens and take our education system onward and upward to the next level of academic achievement.
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