Right now, parents across America are sitting around their kitchen tables, taking stock of the past two years while trying to imagine what the future might look like for their kids.
At the core of many of these conversations is their family’s experience with pandemic-era public school districts where, for the past two years, government-run schools have forced parents to comply with everything from mask mandates to shifting attendance policies to locked-down campuses. Most parents accepted this reality because open schools seemed better than closed schools, but parental involvement in public school districts all over the U.S. diminished.
Unless you are a parent, it is hard to grasp how much the school your child attends impacts your day-to-day life. The most fortunate parents in America are those that have the ability to say, “this isn’t working for my family anymore, I’m going to make a change” – and – have the financial means to carry it through. As food, fuel and housing costs skyrocket, it is a privilege that more and more families will lose.
Parents only have a few tools to challenge the growing power of public school districts, and school choice may be the most important tool parents have to reclaim the American education system. Across the country, there is a strong, bipartisan desire for school choice. According to Gallup, a majority of the country consistently reports being dissatisfied with their public education. According to a poll by Real Clear Opinion Research, roughly 3-in-4 Americans support a school choice program.
Legislation empowering parents with more options for school choice is gaining support across the country. Parents are demanding more say in their family’s educational future and want the opportunity to take their power back from the pandemic-era public school system who have served their children so poorly over the past two years.School choice debates are raging across the country.
Parents with access to school choice have more opportunities to empower their kids with a wide variety of educational institutions, from traditional private and parochial approaches to homeschooling or the various hybrid models that are springing up every day. Rather than forcing kids into schools that are failing or that don’t make sense for their individual situation, school choice encourages parents to send their children to schools where they will thrive.
Conservatives who believe in smaller government, less intrusion into families and more freedom to determine what’s right for your children should look for more opportunities to provide school choice options to families who have been under such pressure over the past two years. It’s time for parents to be in charge when it comes to their own children, whether choosing the educational resources best suited for their children or having more options to move their children away from failing school districts and into more positive learning environments.
Parents are tired of the political theater playing out at too many school board meetings. They are tired of being overlooked, dismissed and disempowered.In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin defied the odds and won the governorship in large part because parents wanted more control over schools. In Georgia, school choice is reshaping the legislative session with the State in position to emerge as a national leader on educational empowerment. And in Louisiana, five bills relating to school choice, including legislation on education savings accounts, are set to take front stage during the upcoming legislative session.
School choice gives parents the power to hold pandemic-era public school districts accountable. By encouraging state legislators to support school choice programs, we can send public school districts the message that American parents are back in charge.
Matt Mackowiak is the president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” may be found on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.