Three Reasons You Should Join “National School Choice Week”

Kyle Olson
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Posted: Jan 11, 2011 12:01 AM

America’s public education system is a lot like the Chicago Cubs: both have become so accustomed to failure that it has become an accepted way-of-life.

While there might be something loveable and comical about a continuously lousy baseball team, there is not a single redeeming thing to be said about perpetually bad public schools.

A nation that tolerates bad public schools is a nation with a bleak future.

That is why during the week of January 23 -29, school choice advocates from around the country are joining together to wake Americans out of their complacent stupor.

We’re calling it “National School Choice Week.” The goal of these seven days is to raise awareness among our fellow citizens about the need for school choice. We believe that the only way all American school children are going to receive a quality education is if all families are allowed to choose the school option that best meets their needs.

“National School Choice Week” is not about elevating one school option above any others. Instead, we want parents to be free to choose from all schooling options: charter schools, religious schools, private schools, virtual schools, traditional public schools. . .whatever works best for the children, that’s what we’re for.

Scads of organizations representing thousands of concerned Americans have already joined the ranks, with more signing up every day. We’ve even got some high-profile allies

in our corner, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain, Fox News analyst Juan Williams, Gov. Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich, to name a few. (A full list can be found on our homepage.)

During “National School Choice Week,” each participating organization is hosting a public event designed to get the school choice message out. There will be town halls, film screenings, rallies and open houses. You can sign up to join the cause and find an event near you by visiting www.schoolchoiceweek.com.

Top 3 reasons you should care about school choice:

Perhaps you’re thinking that school choice isn’t your “thing.” Maybe you don’t have kids in school, so why bother? For those who do have kids in school, surveys suggest that most of you are satisfied with your local public school.

Before you decide to sit out “National School Choice Week,” here are three reasons why every American should care about this issue.

Reason #1: Most education “reform” just throws good money after bad.

Americans have been trying to fix our public education system since the 1960s. It was even part of President Johnson’s “Great Society” agenda. For nearly 50 years, Americans have attempted to “reform” education simply by throwing more and more money at the problem and hoping that it goes away.

What has 50 years of “investment” gotten U.S. taxpayers? Not much.

Consider this: From 1980 to 2007, the U.S. increased K-12 education spending by a whopping 571 percent (from $101 billion in 1980 to $581 billion in 2007). That works out to over $10,000 per student per year.

All that money must have increased learning, right? Afraid not.

Every year, college-bound high school seniors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SATs) to assess “academic readiness for college.” From 1980 to 2008, the average SAT score for critical reading stayed absolutely flat (502 to 502), while the average SAT math score climbed from 492 to 515 – an increase of just 4.6 percent.

For several reasons, these results are unacceptable. But the only way schools will ever improve is if families can choose where to send their children to school. Schools would either quickly improve, or they’d go out of business.

Reason #2: School choice can help prevent states from going bankrupt.

Fox News analyst Dick Morris sees school choice as a necessary way to counteract the impending bankruptcy many states are facing. By late spring of 2011, Morris believes that states will be desperate to make budget cuts simply to stay afloat.

He says state lawmakers will eagerly listen to school choice advocates who come forward with ways children can receive an equally good education (and usually a much better one) at a fraction of the cost. Allowing students to flee underperforming (and teacher union-controlled) traditional schools in favor of less-expensive and better-performing charter schools, virtual schools and private schools (supported by vouchers/opportunity scholarships) will suddenly make a lot of sense to cash-strapped states.

“I think the education system, in the next 24 months, is going to change completely in the United States – in the direction of school choice,” Morris

told “National School Choice Week” reporters.

Reason #3: Every child deserves a quality education to prepare them for life.

Just over 2,100 days -- that’s the amount of time a child will spend in the classroom during their school career. Put end-to-end, that’s just shy of six full years.

That’s not much time to learn all the ideas and concepts an 18-year-old needs before moving on to college or joining the workaday world.

As one parent recently put it, “This is our kids’ education – we get one shot at it. You can’t redo it. They get what they get, and it needs to be good.”

But the fact remains that too many of our public schools are in an advanced state of decay. Keeping children trapped inside such schools is doing great harm to their chances of a happy and productive future.

In reality, subpar schools are jeopardizing the future of all Americans. A great nation requires great schools, and right now we don’t have enough of them.

America’s school children need saving. Many of them are hopelessly trapped in failed schools.

We’ve been patient for too long as “experts” tinker around the margins in hopes of gradually fixing our education system. “National School Choice Week” is a time for declaring that we are finished “tinkering.”

America’s children cannot wait any longer.

Just over 2,100 school days –that’s all these children will get. Each day matters.

The clock is ticking.

Will you join us?