Celebrating National School Choice Week
Each January, National School Choice Week brings together students, parents, and educators to collectively recognize the importance of educational freedom and parental choice. A lot happened in 2021 that opened the eyes of parents: the National School Board Association sent a letter likening them to “domestic terrorists,” schools closed for in-person instruction without clear parameters for a return, controversial, one-sided curriculum being forced onto their children. Policymakers in over one-third of the states responded by passing legislation to promote academic transparency, prohibit the compelled speech of students, and ensure parents have a seat at the table.
Recent polling found that 18% of parents moved their child to a new school last year, with 34% of those parents citing COVID policies and 36% citing the desire for a higher quality education as the main factors. With even more parents actively considering alternative education options, it is more important than ever to make sure they have a variety of choices and the means to make them reality.
Education continues to be at the forefront of many new legislative sessions as lawmakers are quickly introducing bills to promote education freedom and parental rights. Representative Wes Cantrell (GA), Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (OK), and Senator Jim Carlin (IA) have all introduced legislation to create universal education savings accounts (ESAs) in their state. These programs would look much like Senator Rucker’s Hope Scholarship Program in West Virginia, which makes 93% of the state’s students eligible to receive full state funding in an ESA. Lawmakers in Florida, Indiana, and several other states are also introducing bills to require academic transparency in K-12 public education.
For years, our current system of education has prioritized unions and finances over parental involvement and education quality. Melissa Harris-Perry illustrated this in a shocking advertisement when she said, “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” For too long, our public school system has sought to cut parents out of the education process, while giving bureaucrats free reign to impose one-sided political or social viewpoints in the classroom.
Education freedom is important because it gives parents a choice. When their public school fails to meet the best needs of their student, it gives them the financial ability to select viable alternatives for their children. If 2021 was the “Year of School Choice,” then we should be excited about what awaits families in 2022.