Why Parental Choice?
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. Advocating for the expansion of public support will allow all families to fulfill their responsibility as parents, regardless of socioeconomic status, by choosing the school where their children’s needs are best met. Empowering parents strengthens both schools and communities.
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. Restoring this power to parents is essential to reengaging them in the democratic citizenry and allowing them to be the vital contributors to the public good and engines for social progress that families are in our society.
School Choice & Law
A large variety of vehicles exist to enable all parents, not just those with means, to choose the best school necessary for their child’s needs. These include magnet schools, charter schools, tax credit scholarship programs, voucher programs, virtual schools, and others. In some states, barriers to enacting these programs exist, many dating back a century or more and stemming from old prejudices. An increasing number of states, however, are recognizing the need to transform their educational systems to serve all families and parents. Laws and even constitutions will continue to be updated.
School Choice & Politics
Empowering parents with the authority to make decisions in the best interests of their children is at the center of American values. Indeed, our society does that virtually everywhere except education where choice is limited to those who can afford to select their own ZIP codes. We believe parents need maximum flexibility to respond to the evolving needs of their children. This is not a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican cause. It is an American cause.
The American Center for Transforming Education (ACTE) creates a unique and powerful opportunity to expand support for parental choice that includes greater numbers of political centrists, religious leaders, social justice advocates, and ordinary citizens who may be either uninformed or uninspired by current educational reform debates. ACTE seeks to speak to those of whatever party affiliation or social alignment who resonate with arguments about how empowering families is a moral imperative and will yield community and civic benefits beyond the education sphere.
School Choice as a Moral Imperative
John E. Coons