National School Choice Week is still ongoing and it makes sense to highlight a few key thoughts and voices on the importance of choice in education. Thanks to the free market and innovation, Americans today have more consumer choices than ever but sadly there are still stifling limits for education. North Carolina is making strides on school choice and enrollment in charter schools has tripled in the last 10 years. As I mentioned earlier in the week, it is critical to move solely beyond merely arguing about the dollar amount for funding when it comes to improving education. That does not improve learning or schools. Caroline Minter Hoxby, a professor of economics at Harvard University and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, has called school choice “the rising tide to lift all boats.” Those are wise words.
Below are a few extremely helpful thoughts on school choice by the experts:
William G. Howell & Paul E. Peterson, “The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools”
…Most Americans send their children to the public schools assigned to them by their local government. That is striking when one considers the emphasis that Americans place on the principle of freedom of choice in other areas. High school graduates choose their university, even though the government provides grants, loans, and tax breaks to defray the costs. Preschool services are tax deductible, but families can choose their provider. Although the federal government pays the lion’s share of Medicare costs, beneficiaries choose their doctors and hospitals. Yet when it comes to sending a child to primary or secondary school, families—especially poor families—have not been allowed the prerogative to choose.
Herbert Walberg, “School Choice: The Findings”
In 1925 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to choose a public or private school for their children, and in 2002 it upheld their right to do so with the help of a school choice program. As the research reviewed in this book shows, it would be good public policy to give all families ready access to that choice. It is ironic that Americans who regard themselves as free—perhaps as having the freest country in the world—have so little choice when it comes to their children’s education. It is tragic that policy leaders, including governors, legislators, and school boards, have done so little to remedy that situation.
Can the failure of the public school system to do its job properly be a reason to deny children an escape hatch?