The American Center for Transforming Education believes the education of the child is a fundamental responsibility of the family. Although parental choice in education is widely available to those with financial resources, poorer families are left behind. School choice will allow all families to fulfill their responsibility as parents, regardless of socioeconomic status, by choosing the school that best meets their children’s needs. Empowering parents strengthens both schools and communities.
However, school choice currently only applies to a small percentage of students, as noted above. Don Nielsen, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute, points out that “innovation and creativity are much more likely to occur in a charter school than in a traditional public school…until we are able to deregulate our public schools, it makes sense to continue to push for choice, vouchers, and charters. Each has the potential to improve the academic opportunity for some students and that makes them worth trying.” This is why the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act can be seen as promising. Parents who are excluded from exercising their right to access the best school for their children often feel marginalized and ineffective in their responsibility for educating their children.
As Jeffrey S. Solochek writes in the Tampa Bay Times “The federal Every Student Succeeds Act placed several new requirements on states, to make it easier for parents to access and understand data about how their schools and districts are performing.” This has the ability to restore power to the parents and ensures that vital information is provided that measures students’ progress. Only time will tell if this new federal law is truly effective for school choice.
More parental choice is both responsible and warranted. It not only empowers parents by giving choices for their children over state-appointed bureaucrats, but it holds schools more accountable and responsive to the families they serve.