Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Is It Time to Pass School Choice and Provide Vouchers for Education?

             Families, communities, and nations are stronger when children receive adequate education. This is the time of year when millions of school children head back to school. However, 2020 is not a normal year, and most parents are faced with many challenges as they seek to find the best school solution for their children.

            Some parents have joined the already large numbers of families where children and teens are home schooled. Others are opting for online learning even though their child’s school will have in-person classes. Still others are planning to send their children back to school. According to Kay C. James at The Heritage Foundation, the circumstances are right to adopt school choice.

The good news is, there has never been another time in America so ripe for school choice. Wouldn’t it make sense if parents could take a portion of the money that state and local governments spend to educate their children and use it to seek alternatives – like private or parochial school, online education, home schooling, co-ops, or other options?

            James continued by reminding her readers that the taxpayer dollars that are allocated for public education “are meant for the education of students. As such, those dollars should actually fund students, not empty school buildings.” She added that states and school districts “have an obligation to ensure children have access to other educational opportunities.” She said that the average price per child that taxpayers pay for K-12 public education is $14,000. If school buildings remain closed, some of the expenses will disappear – such as janitorial service – and other costs will be less – such as water, sewer, heat, and electrical. James suggested that parents should be given an option to use part of the money to fulfil the obligation to educate students.

School choice seems like an especially critical option as teachers’ unions across the country protest school reopening.

Unions want schools to remain closed until their lists of demands are met, yet many of their conditions have absolutely nothing to do with ensuring the safety of children and teachers during the pandemic.

Demands include such things as forcing landlords and banks to cancel rent and mortgage payments for individuals, keeping private schools closed, and blocking vouchers for school choice.

            The demands of a school district in Los Angeles, California, include keeping schools closed until “Medicare for All” is passed by Congress, police are defunded, charter schools are closed, and more housing provided for the homeless. What do any of these demands have to do with safely reopening schools?

            The correct answer is “nothing.” However, liberals have made clear that they will not let any crisis go to waste. James recognized that “Some teachers’ unions are shamelessly using schoolchildren and the reopening of schools as bargaining chips to push their unrelated social policy agenda.” She said that “True school choice would mean that parents and students wouldn’t have to be held hostage by political demands.”

            James and I agree that the conditions for reopening schools should center “teacher and student safety and providing children a quality education.” Political agendas should be put to the side, and decisions should be “based on the science and a school district’s ability to consistently follow health and safety protocols.”

            Every parent should have a clear choice as to how to educate their children and to keep them safe from the coronavirus. If teachers and/or school districts refuse to provide such education, they should no longer receive funding from taxpayers. We may be able to strengthen families, communities, and the nation more if we have school choice.

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