This is “National School Choice Week” and it is a good time to take stock of what rights we have been granted as parents to educate our children, what rights we have not, and why all this matters.
What is “school choice?” It is the ability of a parent to choose where to send their child to school. In Oklahoma, those options theoretically include traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, homeschooling or free virtual schools. Whether these choices are available to most parents often depends on decisions made by elected officials. For instance, Oklahoma permits public charter schools to operate, but stifles their growth by funding them inequitably compared with traditional public schools. We have many great private schools, but unlike several other states, don’t allow most parents to use their education tax dollars to cover the cost of tuition.
Why does choice matter in education? Like all matters of basic liberty, it’s because in a free society we believe people should be able to control their destinies. If our ability to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as outlined in our Declaration of Independence, somehow does not encompass what we teach our children, then it is a hollow promise indeed.