Some people have the wrong idea about school choice

March 21, 2024 | Sharon Sedlar

A parent’s job involves “sounding like a broken record” sometimes; “Don’t do that!”, “Eat your vegetables.”, “Play nice.” and a ton of other well used “pointers”.  We repeat it over and over again so that they learn and understand. My apologies if I sound like a “broken record’ today, but sometimes people have the wrong idea about school choice.

School choice/education choice is about simply what it says.  The child, and what is best for them and that choice, is the focus.  That can take the form of district, charter, private, homeschool, microschool, or hybrid.  Education can serve a child with not only general education curriculum, but also special needs, sports aptitude, gifted tendencies, vocational goals, or a plethora of other specialties. The difference when you add the word “choice” means that parents can openly and freely choose in the best interests of their child.

The problem is that, in many states, parents have to PAY additionally for what’s best for their child – despite already paying taxes for an assigned education district.  They are at the mercy of the system and what it allows, rather than working from the basis of what the child needs.  Some children are trapped in dysfunctional education environments for years, with parents paying for expenses and legal fees out of pocket before they receive services they should have been receiving all along. 

The education system itself is over 100 years old, and the formality of it was modeled after workers in the industrial age – a whistle (bell) starts the day, tells you when to move to lunch, and when to end your day.  You punch a timeclock (compulsory attendance laws), and exit when work is done for the day – that is, except for many children who go home only to put in hours of homework per night, eat dinner, and go to sleep in preparation for the next day to do it all over again.

Some children thrive in a routine or highly structured environments; for others this type of environment makes them literally bounce off the walls.  But yet, many expect these curious, energetic young bodies to sit in a chair for 8 hours per day (since many schools don’t even allow physical activity during recess anymore).  But would an academically oriented child (let’s say, like my daughter who literally was reprimanded in grade school for walking in the hallways – and sometimes down steps – while engrossed in a book) thrive in an environment where physical activity was prized?  Not necessarily.

Different kids, different needs, different educational offerings and environments.  Our children aren’t widgets churned out in a factory.  They are living, breathing, developing humans trying to find their way – and their parents are the most qualified to guide them.

So the next time you hear someone characterizing “school choice”, remember: school choice focuses on the child, putting the power to choose in parents’ hands.  Anything else is simply modification of an antiquated and ineffective system that will never serve every single child’s needs.

CHOICE is the solution.

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