My View: Education Reform Based on School Choice

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, January 26, 2012

For a moment, try to envision an America where, regardless of how much money you make or where you live, the government empowered you - even encouraged you - to send your children to better schools.

I’m talking about schools that inspire your children, challenge them to excel, and encourage them to dream big and plan for their futures, all while teaching them to love learning.

Sounds impossible. Sounds impractical. Sounds expensive.

But it isn’t.

It’s called school choice, and it’s the notion that across the country, families should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children - public schools, public charter schools, private schools, virtual schools and even home schooling.

Millions of Americans now agree that we must abandon archaic central planning that told us that if you live in one ZIP code, you can choose only one public school. Choice has become a centerpiece of American life, so why shouldn’t it extend to education?

States across the country are experimenting with the philosophy of open access for parents and kids to different educational environments, and the successes are stunning. In Washington, D.C., students participating in a private scholarship program are graduating at a rate that is at least 20 points higher than their public school peers. In Milwaukee, students participating in the nation’s longest-running voucher program are graduating at a rate that is 18% higher than children in traditional public schools. And in New Orleans, parental satisfaction with a new school choice program is over 90%.

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