By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record
This is National School Choice Week. Events are happening across the country to highlight the importance of educational options for children. The national initiative holds that “parents and families should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children.”
Supporters hosted events to highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.
National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella explains, “We choose everything in this country — the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the candidates we vote for. Why don’t more parents get to choose the educational environments that are right for their children?”
A lot of very smart people agree. During National School Choice Week schools, organizations, and individuals will hold over 51,000 events nationwide. Vermont and New Hampshire Governors Phil Scott and Chris Sununu issued proclamations, along with hundreds of mayors and county leaders. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing School Choice Week. In addition, the President of the United States issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week National School Choice Week in the United States.
“As someone who was raised in a single-parent household in a distressed community, I know all too well what it’s like to feel overlooked. I firmly believe that a child’s zip code should not affect his or her access to quality education nor should it affect the child’s future, which is why I proudly support National School Choice Week,” said Sen. Tim Scott. “We must ensure that our children have access to all paths to assure that they are receiving the education that will lead to success in the future.”
Many New Hampshire lawmakers have seen the light and recently got very close to passing one of the best school choice bills in the nation. Vermont’s liberal legislators remain woefully in the darkness of the teacher unions’ back pocket. That’s a tragic shame, because if they truly sought solutions to their wildly out-of-control education spending crises, they need look no further than school choice.
Consumer choice drives innovation and efficiency for one simple reason — survival. If a company makes a bad product, or offers a poor service, it will cease to exist. Choice rewards excellence as efficiently as monopoly promotes inefficacy. As George Will often says, “It is axiomatic: When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate.”
Jeb Bush posed a good question, in light of the school choice push: “How is it that parents have a say over every aspect of their children’s lives, yet often must delegate the critical decision of where they go to school to political boards and government bureaucracies? This has created an education monopoly that spurns accountability, views innovation as a threat, and prioritizes the job security of employees over the learning of children.
“The result is hardly surprising: America has become a global leader in education spending and a global laggard in academic achievement.”
The writing is on the wall, even if the teachers’ unions and blob bureaucracies want you to interpret it differently. Give a tuition voucher to all children and watch the extraordinary innovations and efficiencies that result.
Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.