Ken Blackwell

These fledgling choice programs are becoming increasingly popular because public schools are performing so poorly. In fact, Ohio's charter schools and vouchers are only available to students living in districts in academic emergency or academic watch.

Parents like the programs because they empower them. Teacher unions oppose the programs because they weaken their position at the collective bargaining table.

As taxpayers who contribute to overall public education funding, parents should have the broadest educational options available.

Instead, too many are forced to raise their children in failing districts with few options. The public school monopoly dictates, through geographical boundaries, who will attend what school. Tax dollars are swallowed by unaccountable bureaucracies more concerned with administrative requirements than with children.

Ohio's charter schools and vouchers are changing the dynamic and offering a solution. The programs infuse the underperforming public education system with a healthy dose of free market competition. And through that competition, improve education across the board.

The Columbus Dispatch praised their contribution stating in a recent editorial, "The only thing that has prodded the conventional school system to do something about its mediocrity, inefficiency and inertia is the alarm generated when students and the money to educate them began to decamp for voucher and charter schools."

The newspaper also took issue with Gov. Strickland's lack of accountability argument writing, "Parents can pull their children out of these schools whenever they like for any reason. Until the advent of charters and vouchers, the majority of parents had no way of punishing a failing conventional public school so immediately and directly."

The Dayton Daily News also joined the debated adding, "Ohio's public schools are better today because of the competition charter schools and vouchers have created. The governor and public school advocates need to deal with that."

These two newspapers, usually all too willing to carry water for Ohio's new Democrat governor, sharply broke ranks with Gov. Strickland because they understand the negative impact his push will have on poor children. They care.

So too should school choice advocates across the nation. In Ohio, opponents of educational options and empowerment are emboldened by recent electoral victories. They control the governor's office, wield the veto pen and stand ready to eliminate charter schools and vouchers.

In the 1960's, Rev. King fought segregationists who put up barriers to basic human rights and denied African-Americans the civil rights each of our nation's citizens are guaranteed. Today, we fight entrenched bureaucracy, greedy teachers' unions and their politician allies. Their hearts may be different, but their desired result is the same. They seek to deny poor children a fundamental civil right - equal access to a quality education.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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