According to British educational specialist Sir Ken Robinson, our current education system is structured on the industrial revolution. Professor Robinson argues that the American public school system operates on a production line mentality modeled after industrial factory lines. Ringing bells dictate when students are permitted to move, students are separated into different facilities, classrooms function on separate subjects, children are educated by batches determined by age, and standardized tests determine their intelligence. This type of model fits quite well into an education system based on a top-down one-size-fits all government approach. But our children are unique and gifted in various subjects. And it is parents, not government, that understand the strengths and weaknesses of their children and how they best learn. School choice is a fair and simple way to shift control of education from the government back to parents, where it belongs.
Predictably, this student-centered focus does not sit well with teachers’ unions. The North Carolina Association of Educators is currently attempting to sue the State Education Assistance Authority in order to block the innovative school voucher program, and maintain their monopoly in the education sector.
The picture is equally bleak at the national level, where teachers’ unions, President Obama, and liberal ideologues like Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid, have refused to move legislation that would expand parental choice in education. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has introduced legislation that would increase school voucher funding for low-income families, but the bill remains bottled up in a Senate committee.
If the Left is serious about helping low-income families get the best education possible, they should put the interests of children before the interests of labor unions and join educational leaders in advancing school choice.
School choice doesn’t have to remain a partisan issue. Freshman Democratic Senator Cory Booker has long championed student-centered education reform in New Jersey. It’s time for the rest of the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama to get on board the school choice train. The future of our children’s education depends on it.