Opinion: Our children deserve the best opportunities. Let’s start with school choice

This commentary is by Scott Turner, chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for Education Opportunity. He previously served as the executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.

Every American student deserves the opportunity to receive a quality education, a pathway to fulfilling dreams, and upward economic and social mobility. Unfortunately, many schools in our current public education system achieve none of these goals for so many students across the country.

The beauty of school choice is that it is indiscriminate of those it benefits. Children from low-income families and students with special needs are significantly aided by educational choice, as well as students from middle- and upper-class families.

Last year, many areas of the country experienced important progress in school choice. Fourteen states passed school choice legislation, including the landmark Empowerment Scholarship Program in Arizona, which was extended to every single K-12 student. This program provides for Education Savings Accounts, which allow parents to receive a portion of the funds the state would have spent on public school education to use for an alternative educational environment. Another victory occurred at the United States Supreme Court, where the Court ruled that Maine’s school voucher program could not exclude faith-based schools. This ruling set an important precedent for religious freedom and parental rights that will continue to play an important role in the movement for educational freedom. Additionally, the governors of Virginia and North Carolina signed budgets with increased funding for school choice scholarship programs.

The school choice movement also scored numerous victories at the ballot box in the 2022 midterm elections. Warriors for educational choice, including Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and Kim Reynolds of Iowa, won their elections handily after making this issue a major part of their platforms. Advocates for parental rights and school choice also experienced success on the local level in many areas.

The research on school choice indicates a strong correlation between states with more academic freedom and high student test scores. After last year’s results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed a dramatic decline in reading and math scores for American fourth and eighth graders, policymakers should look to school choice as a way to assist students with learning loss. The decline in academic achievement scores was the largest since the testing began in 1990, and only 32% of the Nation’s fourth graders scored at or above a proficient level in 2022. At the same time, African American fourth-grade students scored 28 points lower than white students in the same grade. By increasing school choice, policymakers can enable families to find the schools that best suit their children’s individual needs, which will be critical in improving test scores across our Nation.

Not only does school choice often lead to better results for students, but it also restores control of a child’s education to parents, who are the people best suited for making decisions about which schools are best for their children. Allowing parents to practice their right to choose where their child is educated meets the present moment in American history. In national polling, 72% support school choice programs, and our country continues to see a growing demand for parental rights and educational transparency.

Two of the most critical civil rights issues in modern-day America are parental rights and educational freedom. Our children deserve the best opportunities we can give them, and these opportunities start in schools. If we invest in our students and families with smart public policy, we will enable a future generation of American leaders to create greater outcomes than we can ever imagine.

Image courtesy of SchoolChoiceWeek.com

8 thoughts on “Opinion: Our children deserve the best opportunities. Let’s start with school choice

  1. Twelve Tribes has a private school? Who wants to have their children living next door to a family who sends their kids to a school run by a cult???

    Twelve Tribes could really make a killing by using some of the national organization’s money to mount a strong recruitment campaign, a la Trump University.

    • What’s the difference between indoctrination the public school monopoly compared to any other school?

      With School Choice, it’s a decision parents make on behalf of their own children.

      In the public-school monopoly, the indoctrination is imposed by ‘the State’.

      So, decide for yourselves who has your children’s best interest in mind.

      Ooops. Sorry. In the public-school monopoly, your decision is meaningless.

      • Rather than have public schools, the ancient Romans simply used slaves to teach their kids. The result of course was an oligarchy that owned and ran the empire, while the freemen (not as well off as slaves, who usually had a roof over their head and basic sustenance) fought with one another to get advantage for their children.

        the result of course was as Gibbon put it in the Decline and Fall: “The obscure millions of a great empire have much less to dread from the cruelty than from the avarice of their masters, and their humble happiness is principally affected by the grievance of excessive taxes, which, gently pressing on the wealthy, descends with accelerated weight on the meaner and more indigent classes of society.”

        The advantage of public schooling– when citizens cooperate to support one another’s children– redound to children, families and society. There is no good future for America when attendance at the PTA meeting is motivated by the desire to get the best teacher only for one’s own child.

  2. The issue is really that American public education his been hijacked byPaulo Freire’s Critical Marxism through critical Pedagogy. They are programming our children via Social -Emotional Learning to critically judge and reject the current social system to replace the system. Children are brainwashed to see reality through the lens of the oppressed and turned into activists. If this wasn’t occuring, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  3. It’s a wonderful notion, “School Choice”. But WHAT choices are there in VT? How many K-12 private schools are there? Where are they (outside of BTV)? Many smaller private Catholic elementary schools closed. I haven’t heard of anyone seeking to buy, build & operate a K-6 private school? But maybe if the State has to pay $19,400 per elementary school child, it could work? Call it 15 kids per class K-6. That is just under $300,000 per new elementary grade classroom.. Call it $75,000 for teacher salary and expensive benefits….that leaves $225,000 per class room for facility, overhead and profit? I think it could be done (WITH BETTER OUTCOMES) but not anytime soom.

    Trump was out today and once again he NAILS it…of WHY parents are so upset in VT. There would be no VT school choice uproar, if all was not so Leftist Indoctrinating with the VT/NEA education system:

    “”Our public schools have been taken over by the Radical Left maniacs,” Trump said in a video announcement released late Thursday night. Trump said the first step in his plan to “save American education” and restore power to parents would be to cut federal funding for any school or program pushing Critical Race Theory, gender ideology or other “inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content to children.

      • Well, yes Jay there are some out there. But they aren’t what you think, for comparables A couple are VERY expensive speciality “ski racing boarding” HIGH schools…then I saw a couple are Montessori schools…Montesorri is as far, far enviro political left as you can get.. Then VT Academy, Saxtons River? That is a private 9-12 (NOT elementary) BOARDING school but charges around $50k a year? same with a couple other $$$ private ones.. …BOARDING schools.

        what I want to see is a private school in MONTPELIER…day school, not boarding. And show the success right under all the leftists noses in Montpelier

      • What’s your point? School Choice is not just a ‘notion’. Did you review the web site?

        A quick search shows these private schools in Montpelier:
        River Rock School
        Pacem School
        The New School Of Montpelier
        Montessori School Of Central

        Be realistic.. Here’s a current list of Vermont private schools… not counting parochial schools.
        Town School Students Grades Status
        Bennington Hiland Hall School
        32 K-8 Approved
        Berlin Montessori School of Central Vt.
        29 K-6 Recognized
        Brattleboro Hilltop Montessori School
        77 K-8 Approved
        Brattleboro Neighborhood Schoolhouse
        30 K-8 Approved
        Bristol Red Cedar School
        39 K-8 Recognized
        Burke East Burke School
        9 7-12 Approved
        Burke Burke Mountain Academy
        56 8-12 Accredited
        Burlington Rock Point School
        15 9-12 Accredited
        Burlington Vermont International Academy
        12 9-12 Accredited
        Dorset Long Trail School
        197 6-12 Accredited
        Dover Mount Snow Academy
        33 6-12 Recognized
        East Montpelier Orchard Valley Waldorf School
        90 K-8 Approved
        Essex Junction Green Mountain Montessori School
        2 K Approved
        Fair Haven Roots & Wings Academy
        11 K-6 Recognized
        Killington KillingtonMountainSchool
        85 6-12 Accredited
        Ludlow Black River Independent School
        new Recognized
        Ludlow Okemo Mountain School
        37 7-12 Approved
        Lyndon Center Lyndon Institute
        586 9-12 Accredited
        Lyndon Center Thaddeus Stevens School
        60 K-8 Accredited
        Lyndonville Riverside School
        78 K-8 Accredited
        Manchester Burr & Burton Academy
        687 9-12 Accredited
        Manchester Maple Street School
        112 K-8 Accredited
        Manchester Red Fox School
        12 K-4 Approved
        Middlebury Bridge School
        38 K-6 Approved
        Middlebury Mary Johnson Children’s Center
        3 K Approved
        Montpelier Pacem School
        3 6-12 Approved
        Montpelier River Rock School
        46 K-8 Recognized
        North Bennington Southshire Community School
        26 K-6 Approved
        North Bennington Village School of North Bennington
        114 K-8 Accredited
        Putney The Grammar School
        91 K-8 Accredited
        Putney Oak Meadow School
        9-12 Accredited
        Putney The Putney School
        233 9-12 Accredited
        Quechee Upper Valley Waldorf School
        118 K-8 Accredited
        Randolph Vermont Academy of Science & Technology
        59 9-12 Recognized
        Reading Springbrook Farm
        25 4-7 Recognized
        Ripton North Branch School
        25 7-9 Recognized
        Rockingham Vermont Academy
        209 9-12 Accredited
        Roxbury VT Farm & Forest School
        K-4 Recognized
        Rutland Sugarwood School
        4 K-2 Approved
        Sharon The Sharon Academy
        157 7-12 Accredited
        Shelburne Lake Champlain Waldorf School
        204 K-12 Accredited
        Shelburne Vermont Day School
        65 K-8 Recognized
        South Burlington Davis Community School
        18 K-4 Recognized
        South Burlington International Children’s School
        K-3 Recognized
        South Burlington The Schoolhouse
        49 K-8 Approved
        South Burlington Vermont Commons School
        104 6-12 Accredited
        St Johnsbury Lamoille Valley Learning Together
        75 K-8 Recognized
        St Johnsbury St Johnsbury Academy
        933 9-12 Accredited
        Stowe Mountain River School
        22 K-6 Recognized
        Stowe Mount Mansfield Winter Academy
        41 8-12 Approved
        Stowe North American Hockey Academy
        40 8-12 Recognized
        Stratton Stratton Mountain School
        104 7-12 Accredited
        Thetford Thetford Academy
        338 9-12 Approved
        Thetford Open Fields School
        22 K-6 Recognized
        Richmond Mansfield Cooperative School
        11 3-8 Recognized
        Vershire Mountain School of Milton Academy
        45 9-12 Accredited
        Waitsfield Green Mountain Valley School
        98 9-12 Accredited
        Waitsfield True North Wilderness Program
        10 Recognized
        Westford The Barn School
        0 K-5 Recognized
        Westminster The Compass School
        70 7-12 Approved
        Westminster Kurn Hattin Homes
        96 1-8 Approved
        Williston Bellwether School
        29 K-6 Recognized
        Winhall The Mountain School at Winhall
        45 K-8 Approved

        Here’s the list of parochial schools in Vermont.

        Town School Students Grades Status
        Barre St Monica St Michael School
        66 K-8 Approved
        Barre Websterville Christian School
        80 K-12 Recognized
        Barton St Paul’s Elementary School
        69 K-8 Accredited
        Bennington Forrest Ward Memorial School
        6 1-8 Approved
        Bennington Grace Christian School
        111 K-12 Recognized
        Bennington Green Mountain Mennonite School
        1-8 Recognized
        Bennington Sacred Heart School
        141 K-8 Accredited
        Brattleboro Saint Michael School
        117 preK-12 Accredited
        Burlington Christ the King School
        170 K-8 Accredited
        Fairfax Apple Ladder Academy
        Burlington Mater Christi School
        228 K-8 Accredited
        Hartford Potters House School
        K-10 Recognized
        Island Pond Twelve Tribes Community School
        Lyndonville Cornerstone Christian School
        4 7-12 Recogtnized
        Marshfield Christ Covenant School
        84 K-12 Recognized
        Morrisville Bishop John A Marshall School
        121 K-8 Accredited
        Newport United Christian Academy
        77 K-12 Recognized
        Quechee Mid Vermont Christian School
        81 K-12 Approved
        Rockingham Twelve Tribes Community School
        Rutland Christ the King School
        111 K-8 Accredited
        Rutland Mount St Joseph Academy
        80 9-12 Accredited
        Rutland Rutland Area Christian School
        55 K-9 Approved
        Rutland Twelve Tribes Community School
        South Burlington Rice Memorial High School
        437 9-12 Accredited
        St Johnsbury Caledonia Christian School
        12 1-8 Approved
        St Johnsbury Good Shepherd School
        75 K-8 Recognized
        Vergennes Ark Preschool Kindergarten
        1 K Recognized
        Vergennes Champlain Valley Christian School
        52 K-12 Approved
        Williston Brownell Mountain School
        6 K-10 Accredited
        Williston Trinity Baptist School
        60 K-12 Recognized
        Winooski St Francis Xavier School
        147 K-8 Accredited
        Wolcott Wolcott Mennonite School
        1-10 Recognized

        And in towns with current School Choice, their children can attend out-of-state schools too… even with limited School Choice governance. After all, there are only 75,000 students in Vermont public schools. And think of the incentive for improvement in the currently failing public schools when they’re forced to compete.

        If you have a better idea? Let’s hear it.

Comments are closed.