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The Bottom Line How Texas Is Becoming the Frontlines for Parents-First School Choice

Parents Are Essential in Their Children's Education Originally published at New York Post

There is a showdown brewing in the Texas House of Representatives this week concerning Governor Greg Abbott’s effort to bring school choice to all Texas families. Senate Bill 1, known as the Texas Education Freedom Act, passed the Senate last week and now awaits a vote in the House, where some Republicans from rural areas previously blocked similar bills earlier this year.

The Texas Education Freedom Act would allocate $8,000 per student toward the education avenue of their family’s choice — potentially providing a pathway out of the public school system. There is opposition, of course — lawmakers beholden to the teachers unions who get them elected and maintain the misplaced belief that the government, not parents, must control the reins of childhood education.

For far too long, K-12 public schools have been viewed as the only experts when it comes to educating children. Parents’ fundamental responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children has been outsourced to these government institutes, where the vast majority of children remain trapped. But school choice has the power to upend this equation.

What should be a partnership between the home and school — with parents having ultimate authority over their children’s learning — has been pushed aside under the guise that professional educators actually know best. The National Education Association — the largest and most powerful teachers union in the world — tweeted last November: “Educators love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and thrive.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth — it’s moms and dads who have been with their children since birth and clearly understand what’s in their best interests. And, it’s moms and dads — not teachers, no matter how beloved — who remain in their children’s lives long past each school year.

Children belong to parents — not the state and certainly not the public education system. And it’s time parents are valued as the most important player in their children’s education.

Keri D. Ingraham

The value of parents in the education process has been minimized and, in many cases, removed. While the notion that schools know best has taken root for decades, public education bureaucrats, teachers union leaders, and their political allies have doubled down in recent years. And teachers have followed suit.

It is far more than a matter of parents not being viewed as essential assets in education — they literally aren’t welcome. This summer, the National Education Association — the largest teachers union in the world — held its annual representatives assembly. They released a video on their social media channels showing teachers holding signs that read: “Keep your nose out of my classroom.”

This comes on the heels of efforts by teachers unions to keep schools closed and learning disrupted during the pandemic for up to three years in some states. During that time, parents had a front-row seat to see exactly what their children were being taught — or the lack thereof. Parents were unsurprisingly concerned. But as they voiced those concerns, they were shot down, silenced, and pushed farther away.

When public schools finally reopened for in-person learning, parents were told they could not enter classrooms or school offices in the name of safety. The truth is far more worrisome: Parents aren’t welcome in public schools because educators don’t want them there. This is a far cry from the education philosophy at many private schools, where parents are treated as essential partners in their child’s journey through learning. 

Make no mistake: Schools exist to provide quality academic learning content that supports parents’ effort to rear their children — not to isolate children from their loved ones.  Yet, the dominant philosophy in public schools insists that parents are not essential partners in the process — and that school employees know best.

Taking it another step, President Joe Biden believes children collectively belong to the nation, not parents. In an address to teachers in April, he drove down on this misplaced notion claiming: “There’s no such thing as someone else’s child. Our nation’s children are all our children.” Biden’s near-communist mindset is extreme and, yet, brought into effect by American educators. 

Children belong to parents — not the state and certainly not the public education system. And it’s time parents are valued as the most important player in their children’s education.

For decades, K-12 public schools have failed to effectively educate the vast majority of children. More money put into the system has proven to not be the solution. There is a better way. It’s time parents are empowered via their tax dollars to select the educational avenues that best support their own values and allow for the most active involvement. 

Thanks to historic parental rights and educational freedom achievements in the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions, 10 states have passed universal or near-universal school choice laws.

And next year, additional states including Alabama and Georgia are also poised to push for school choice. That means moms and dads of K-12 children across the nation will be free to education their kids as they see fit.

These states have recognized that children belong to parents — not the government and certainly not public schools. It’s time for Texas to become the 11th state to pass universal school choice empowering parents.

Are you concerned about educating the next generation?
The American Center for Transforming Education is a program of Discovery Institute, a non-profit organization fueled by its supporters. Will you help us advance the timely and vital work of transforming our K-12 education system so that it better serves students and their families?