Kids’ lives and futures are at stake
October 26, 2023 | Sharon Sedlar
As you might have noticed, I’ve been fortunate to have an opportunity to share my parent perspective on education choice twice this last month – once with our own PA Education Tour sponsored by the PA House Appropriations and Education Committees, and the second in front of the Congressional Ways and Means Committee (more to come on that soon).
A theme I keep noticing is one where some want to “take care of” or “first fund” the traditional district system so that it’s a better resource for children before looking to alternate options. Some seek increased regulations, oversight, and funding cuts to those same potential remedies. I think that cutting an alternative, desperately needed in our lowest-performing and lowest-income districts in particular, is only going to worsen the difficulties our children already experience in K-12 education. I would submit:
- The traditional district system has had ample opportunity for decades, and massive increases in funding, to turn things around.
- While infrastructural and financial improvements are being made in the traditional system, these children deserve alternatives, rather than continuation of entrapment in a malfunctioning system.
- Private schools, as demonstrated via NAEP scores, have proven to score higher than public schools.
The provision of programs such as PASS (Lifeline) on a commonwealth level and the ECCA (Educational Choice for Children Act) on a federal level would allow children to change their educational environment and trajectory
I keep coming back to the words of Governor Josh Shapiro, starting October of 2022 and consistently since then – “This is not an either/or…I think this is a both/and I think we can invest in public education and empower parents to put their kids in the best opportunity to succeed.”
Our kids’ education lives only comprise of about 17% of their lifetime. Asking children and families to “wait” while adults figure it all out is immoral, unethical, and callous.
So yes, let’s fund traditional public schools appropriately. All children deserve, and are constitutionally entitled to, “a thorough and efficient system of public education” (emphasis added on the word education – as the constitution does not say school, or building). But also let’s open up the education pathways for alternate education methods to take pressure off that system in need of so much transformation, and to better and more immediately serve children.