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America prides itself on being a society in which all are created equal. A country in which we are, as Martin Luther King, Jr. had hoped, people who are not “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Still, though, there is one major frontier in which all is not equal, and that is in education. Public education in America is such that, in many instances, the quality of a child’s education is determined by where that child lives. That is why school choice is so important; to ensure that every child has access to a quality education, regardless of income or geography.
While this is not specifically an issue of racial equality, minority students are hardest hit. Therefore, they have the most to gain from school choice. There are some who, inexplicably, call these educational opportunity programs racist but, fortunately, people are not buying that false bill of good. The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), has made it their mission to “increase access to high quality education options for black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class black families.” Yesterday, the BAEO released a study showing that black parents recognize school choice as an incredible opportunity for their children.
The study surveyed 2,000 black parents in four southern states with high rates of black poverty, and found that these parents have a “hunger for change.” The study showed that 85%-89% of parents in each state feel that the government should gives parents as many options as possible for the education of their children with most parents in each state supporting charter schools. Perhaps the most shocking finding is that most parents said that, given a choice, they would put their child in a school other than the one to which they are currently assigned.
If our educational system is failing black children to the extent that parents would prefer to change schools to give them a better start in life, those opportunities should be available. BAEO president Kenneth L. Campbell said
"Choice means freedom -- the freedom to do what's best for your child, the freedom that comes with open opportunity -- and we've been fighting for freedom for more than 200 years. The data clearly shows that the time has come for us to stand up and fight for the choices and freedoms that we want for ourselves and our children."
In modern America, there is no excuse for access to education to be tied to race or geography in any way. Technology and innovations in education have advanced to the degree that it is more economical and easier than ever to give children access to more options. School choice, by removing these barriers from the equation, makes a truly even playing field for all children. When parents are given options for their families and children are able to attend the best schools for them, everybody wins.