Sunshine Week Spotlight: Parental Rights and Academic Transparency
Freedom in education is sweeping across the country. This year alone, three new states, including Iowa, Utah, and Arkansas, have joined West Virginia and Arizona in an elite club by offering universal education scholarship account (ESA) programs for their students and families. Thanks to the state lawmakers leading these efforts, 2.5 million American students can now direct how their student’s state education dollars are spent.
The core belief underpinning this national reimagining of education is that parents and students come first. States are recognizing that parents – not bureaucrats – must be primarily responsible for their student’s education and should have maximum flexibility and freedom to make educational decisions for their student.
Historically, American students have been assigned to a public school near them based on nothing more than a street address. This arcane process fails to account for the unique and individual needs of each student, trapping many of them in a school that is a bad fit for them. With so many options available to families, like private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, homeschools, microschools, and learning pods, policies like ESAs are crucial to ensuring every student has an equal chance at succeeding.
ALEC emphatically supports the rights of parents and the efforts of state lawmakers around the country to change our thinking on education. We have passed model policies like the Academic Transparency Act, which requires schools to post their instructional materials online for parents to view at any time, and the Hope Scholarship Act, which creates a universal ESA for all students and families. No longer do parents need to navigate impossible bureaucracies to discover what their children are being taught, and no longer should a zip code be the primary determinant of a student’s future success.
Parents have the right to direct their child’s upbringing and education, and this can only be accomplished when given fair and open access to the materials and concepts being taught to their children. As we celebrate Sunshine Week, let’s also celebrate the historic support, flexibility, and transparency that parents are receiving across the nation.