Choosing A Better Way to Educate Students

In the policy paper released by the Republican House Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility, solutions to the education system that will help keep vulnerable youth from staying in the cycle of poverty are discussed. Two of the Speaker’s visions that align closely with ALEC model policies are educational choice and transparency. In the past, Congress has poured money into redundant educational programs while limiting parents’ ability to choose the best way to help their children succeed. The task force paper reaches the conclusion that Congress should take a step back and allow families, communities, and states to be in charge of the education systems they participate in.

Educational choice is instrumental in keeping students out of failing schools and out of poverty. For years, districts have assigned students and their allocated taxpayer money to a certain school. This  19th Century system does not take into consideration that children need different learning environments, whether that is a different public school or a religious private school. Choice allows parents to have the opportunity to find an educational option tailored to their child’s needs, instead of being forced to stay in their district school regardless of how it works for their child.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is one of the school choice success stories discussed in the report. In this program, low-income children in Washington D.C. are given scholarships to private schools. This helps students and their families choose a better educational route. Educational choice can take many forms, but as charter schools, opportunity scholarships, and education savings accounts multiply across the states, the success of DCOSP indicates that we can expect graduation rates to rise nationwide. With students and their families in control of making their own educational choices, students will have a better chance to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Not only do students in educational choice programs perform better academically than their district peers, but program participation is linked to better life outcomes. As a recent study has shown, participating in an educational choice program results in a sharp decrease in crime rates later in life.

For families to make the most informed educational decisions, no matter the level of education, transparency within schools must exist. Parents need to know exactly what their students will be receiving.

With the rising cost of education, students and parents are left with a tough decision when it comes to choosing a college or university. Transparency should be required to help families budget properly. The ALEC Higher Education Transparency Act explains different ways in which universities could be more transparent by posting syllabi and a class curricula online. Colleges need to inform students and parents so they will be able to make the informed decisions that can cause them to be the most successful.

The War on Poverty is a serious fight, and the past programs dealing with education that Congress has had in place have not helped the situation. A strong education beginning at a young age can be the defining factor that keeps a person out of poverty and leads them to a better future after the classroom. According to the Speaker’s Vision, it is time for Congress with their redundant programs to step back and allow the people actually affected to make the informed decisions that will lead to their future success.

In Depth: Education

An excellent education has long been recognized as key to the American Dream. Unfortunately, the current monopolistic and expensive K-12 education system is failing our students, leaving them unprepared for college, careers, or life. Similarly, our higher education system is leaving students with higher debt burdens and fewer career guarantees…

+ Education In Depth