Beginning January 25th, families across the nation will celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week. Stay tuned to The EdFly Blog for more on school choice this month, and visit SchoolChoiceWeek.com to find events in your area.
I sometimes wish we could change the name of National School Choice Week to National Parent Equality Week.
Because that is what choice is all about.
Those of us who are parents understand that perhaps our greatest responsibility is preparing our children for the future.
Key to that responsibility is providing them with a quality education.
So imagine the frustration of a mother forced to send her child to a school that she knows is failing him, a school that is not giving him the knowledge he must have to enter college or start a career.
And the only reason for this predicament is that she can’t afford to buy her way out of it. She can’t afford to live in a neighborhood with a better public school. She can’t afford the tuition to a private school.
Those advantages accrue only to more affluent parents.
And the simple reason is that it is a system that prioritizes adults. Ineffective teachers are protected by collective bargaining agreements while the children in their classrooms are not protected from a substandard education. Bureaucracies draw attendance boundaries that force parents to send their children to failure factories because they are paid regardless of outcome.
Inequality at birth condemns poor children to inequality in education because their parents are powerless to do anything about it.
There is a remedy, and that is giving all parents the right to choose where their children go to school.
We have a nation in which businesses that fail go out of business while schools that fail stay open because they have a captive population of students.
That sad reality only will change when parents have options.
School choice is the most fundamental of all education reforms because it makes schools accountable to moms and dads.
Choice fosters innovation in an education system still mired in the 19th century, a system woefully out of touch with the demands placed on it by the most diverse student population in our nation’s history. Choice opens the door to digital learning, which has the potential to provide any child in any zip code access to the best curriculum in the country.
The only obstacle is an entrenched status quo.
We must empower parents to overcome that obstacle because there will be no equality for children until there is equality for parents.
To me, that is the defining message of National School Choice Week.
About the author
Patricia Levesque @levesquepat
Patricia is the Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Contact Patricia at PatriciaLevesque@excelined.org