Is school choice becoming the new normal?

There was a time when it was taken for granted that all American kids would walk the same path from the ages of six to 18. Every morning, they’d rise at the crack of dawn, walk, bike, or bus, to the local school house, and have the three Rs drummed into them until mid-afternoon. This pattern was repeated five days a week, nine months out of the year, and few bothered to question it. It was a simpler time, some may say, but simpler isn’t always better.

In a time when schools have become increasingly dysfunctional, plagued by violence, poor performance, and even blatant cheating by teachers, parents are starting to wonder why they should be forced to send their children to such unproductive and damaging environments, simply by virtue of where they happen to live. They’re demanding options, and for once, legislators are starting to listen.

It usually takes government at least a couple of decades to catch on to what people actually want, and even then it usually responds by doing the opposite. But this time, it looks like decades of school choice activism is finally starting to pay off, with groundbreaking school choice programs starting to pop up around the country. Perhaps most notable is the Education Savings Account program that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recently signed into law. Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) work by simply giving parents the tax dollars that would otherwise be spent on publicly schooling their child, and they can then use this money on any form of education they like. This includes tuition for public and private schools, online learning programs, textbooks and other materials, and special needs programs for children with learning disabilities.