As Texas tries to expand education freedom for families in a special legislative session, some of the loudest and more intense opposition to empowering parents comes from those who themselves benefit from school choice.
Contrary to what many have been led to believe, parents of low-income and racial minority students support school choice. Unfortunately, legislators and some parents who have benefited from education options too often oppose providing opportunities to the less affluent.
There are five major categories of people working to block school choice for others despite taking advantage of it themselves. First — and the most hypocritical — those who send their own children to private schools as their wealth allows but don’t want others to have that opportunity. As one example, Texas Democratic State Representative Gene Wu defended his political work to block school choice despite sending his children to a private school. Wu asserted on his X account: “See, most Private Schools have strict admissions standards. Both of our kids had to TEST-IN. We spent weeks preparing them and paid for assistance. How do low income families do this?” For Wu and those like him, private schools are best for his children but should not be accessible to low-income families.
The second camp of school choice naysayers are Democratic politicians who attended private school themselves. Despite their private school education setting them on a strong trajectory for life success, they want private schooling to remain financially exclusive — not available for the everyday American family.
Both these groups of Democratic lawmakers — those who send their children to private schools and those who attended private schools — don’t want school choice accessible to others who can’t afford it due to their allegiance to a Democratic political agenda in tandem with the powerful teachers unions. It is a twisted relationship that places adults, money, and power ahead of children. More children in public schools translates to more teachers, which equates to more union member dues, which are funneled to Democrats’ political campaigns. Wu pledges his allegiance to this cartel in return for the teachers unions getting him elected rather than representing his constituents and prioritizing their interests.
There is a third group who benefit from their opted school choice avenue yet oppose that freedom to choose for others. It is those with the means to move into more affluent neighborhoods so that their children can attend public district schools with larger budgets, nicer facilities, and a track record of stronger academic learning than other district schools.
For example, Bellevue Public Schools historically has been one of the top public school districts in Washington State. Families with means have moved to Bellevue by droves since the 1950s so their children could attend those schools. The median home listing price in Bellevue tops $1.8 million. Undeniably, families who move to affluent areas to enroll their children in their chosen public district school exercise school choice. Yet, these district-loyal parents are persuaded to vote against school choice — not just in Bellevue, but across the nation.
Fourth, there are subsets of parents who reap the benefits of school choice for their children through public school open enrollment and choice school lotteries yet defy logic by being against school choice. They buy into lies from teachers unions and the unions’ political allies who inaccurately claim that school choice will defund public schools. In turn, out of self-preserving interests, these parents don’t want others to have school choice options through alternative avenues despite obtaining their desired preference for their children.
Finally, some parents who homeschool their children are in vocal opposition to school choice and vote against it. Driven by intense — and even irrational — fear of increased government regulation of homeschooling, they speak out against parental empowerment with taxpayer funding to allow the opportunity to move their children outside of the public school system — whether to attend a private school or to be educated through homeschooling. The mindset centers on the belief that others’ educational freedom could hurt their homeschooling autonomy. The priority to denounce school choice as bad by fearmongering is out of a self-seeking interest — above the good of others and against reality.
It is long past time to call out this hypocrisy. In our free market society and with the massive failure of public district schools to effectively educate the majority of students, there is a better way — allowing parents to select the education avenue that will best serve their children — whether private school, homeschool, or choice public schools such as a charter school or another district public school regardless of residential assignment.
Parents know and love their children the most and can be trusted to select the best learning. But they have to be afforded the opportunity to make that choice — regardless of socio-economic status or home address.
Those who have benefited from school choice need to cast political allegiance and irrational fear aside and instead advocate that others receive the coveted educational freedom they enjoy.