These days, freedom is under fire in many ways. So it’s nice to be able to report that, in one area at least, freedom is marching in the right direction: education.
“Indiana’s highest court ruled unanimously in Meredith v. Pence that the Choice Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to low-income and middle-income families in the Hoosier State, is constitutional,” The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke reported recently. “The suit, brought by the teachers unions, sought to end the country’s largest and most inclusive school voucher program.”
We can be grateful it failed. Some 600,000 children across Indiana are now eligible to receive scholarships to attend a private school that meets their unique learning needs. The ruling will empower students and parents instead of education bureaucrats. And it recognizes that while public education is a benefit to all, that doesn’t have to mean that the government should run all the schools.
Competition, after all, improves education just as it improves most things. When schools compete, parents can choose the one that’s right for their child’s learning needs, and that helps everyone.
Education freedom is advancing elsewhere. In Texas, lawmakers are considering a measure that would remove the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state. There are only 215 right now, but at least 100,000 students are eager to enroll in one. It’s time to increase supply to meet that demand. The Lone Star state is due for a shakeup. More than half of all public school students there are Hispanic.
Yet while 42 percent of white eighth graders are proficient in reading, just 17 percent of their Hispanic peers can read on grade level.
School choice has already made a big difference for special-needs children in Florida, where the state has made McKay scholarships available.
“A survey of McKay Scholarship parents revealed strong rates of satisfaction with services provided in comparison to previous public schools,” researcher Matthew Ladner wrote for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “The survey found that 92.7 percent of current McKay participants are satisfied or very satisfied with their McKay schools, while 32.7 percent were similarly satisfied with their public schools.”