School Choice Week: A Reflection

While the impeachment trial continues in the Senate and the House plays partisan games with bills like the upcoming PRO Act, people outside of Washington in “real America” wonder what politicians are actually doing for them. For the answer, this week, they should turn to champions of school choice across the nation, in celebration of National School Choice Week.

Contrary to leftist rhetoric, “school choice” is not code for ending public schools. It is not code for cutting teacher pay. It is, plainly and simply, allowing families a choice of schooling for their children. Due to a lack of any school choice in many areas of the country, low- and middle-class families are often effectively all but required by law to send their children to whichever public school is associated with their address. Unfortunately, such public schools are not always the best choice.

For all of the ills of the District of Columbia., it has gotten a few things right on school choice. First is the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships for K-12 for students from low-income families in the city to pay tuition and other fees at qualified private schools. Second is the public school choice available to families who send their students to public schools in the city. Put succinctly, public school choice allows families to send their students to public schools outside of their neighborhood boundaries. This is the most basic type of school choice and is common sense when considering the implications of such a policy.

Whether it is public school choice or private school choice, a family may choose a different school than the neighborhood or in-district public school for any number of reasons, not simply school performance as many — especially those opposed to school choice — tend to believe. Any factor could contribute to another school being a better fit, from location to programs to size. The government should work to ensure that the maximum number of these reasons are able to be addressed, in order to better the lives and futures of our nation’s students.

Consider, for example, a single father or mother with two children ages 7 and 16 who may much prefer his or her children to go to the same K-12 school with on-campus extracurricular activities near his or her place of work, instead of juggling two bus schedules for schools miles apart from each other. Or, consider a family with a special needs student who would be far better served in the public high school across town than by the high school two blocks down the road.

Needless to say, there is nobody who knows the educational needs of a student better than that student and his or her family. On that basis, it is simple to understand why we need to empower those very actors to choose the best educational options for students, not leave them helpless at the hands of government bureaucrats who take their tax dollars and give only what is in too many instances an unsuitable education.

From private school vouchers and charter schools to public school choice and opportunity scholarships, the options abound for how to go about making expanded school choice a reality in our country. Constituents of every background should raise their voices to say that school choice matters, and legislators from every state and every level of government should listen.

National School Choice Week may be coming to an end, but the futures of students across America are continually beginning, and will forever be. This is a cause worth fighting for.

For more FreedomWorks content on school choice, check out these interviews with the Reason Foundation’s Corey DeAngelis and Satya Marar, as well as this Instagram post, which perfectly sums up nonsensical leftist views on school choice. If you can’t get enough of school choice, feel free to submit a comment to increase school lunch choice, too!