As we celebrate Milton Friedman’s 103rd birthday today, we reflect on the importance of promoting more school choice across the country. Dr. Milton Friedman was a Nobel laureate and advocate of freedom. He believed that parents should be able to choose how to spend public education funds and that it would improve education by increasing opportunity for students and competition between schools.
More and more states are realizing that school choice is the answer to many problems in public education. School choice has become a national movement in public education, and Nebraska is a perfect case study of how more choice would benefit families and schools.
When parents or guardians have the freedom to choose the right school for their children, the doors of opportunity are opened. School choice policies, e.g. tax credit scholarships, public charter school, and education savings accounts allow families to send their children the school that provides the best shot at a bright future regardless of zip code or level of income.
Currently Nebraskan families have some public school choice through inter district enrollment, but this is meaningless to many Nebraska families who live outside of Omaha and Lincoln. Others utilize private schools and home school, but not everyone can afford these options or wants them. We need more choices.
When parents and guardians are free to choose their children’s schooling, both student and school performance improves. Educational freedom not only gives students access to a better education, but it also gives schools an incentive to provide the best education. When schools must compete for enrollment, students benefit.
Education expenditures in Nebraska have risen dramatically over the last two decades according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This coming year the state will spend $1.18 billion and this does not include local and federal expenditures. However, as recently as 2013-14 only 77% of students could read at or above grade level and only 71% were at or above grade level in math (2013-2014 NeSA scores).
We spend billions of dollars and nearly a quarter of Nebraska kids are losing their future because they can’t read and do math! They are losing their opportunity to achieve their version of the Good Life!
We need to get past the false notion that more spending means we care more and focus on what has proven to provide bright futures for students: school choice.
Educational freedom will not only benefit students and schools, but also relieve taxpayers of ever increasing education expenditures. Parents and guardians should have the right to choose where their children attend school and how their tax dollars are spent on education. This is how we pave the way for everyone to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
Nebraska is just a scaled down version of the educational problems we are seeing across the country. We must all look for answers in more freedom. Let’s help students receive the education they deserve!