By John Conlin
More than 550 organizations, including ours, have signed up as partners supporting National School Choice Week, which begins Jan. 27, to promote more choice for parents when it comes to deciding where their kids go to school.
We’re strong supporters of giving parents more choice. But, to paraphrase Mark Antony’s famous speech from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar,” I come to bury National School Choice Week, not to praise it.
Charter schools, vouchers and other efforts to give parents more choices are too timid an approach to school choice because they benefit too few families.
End the Education Plantation is a grass-roots, nonprofit organization fighting to give all parents in America the opportunity to choose a school offering their children the quality education they need to lead happy, successful lives.
So, why do we want to bury National School Choice Week instead of praising it? Because we believe it’s evil that it even needs to exist. And because we want to speed things up.
Despite strong resistance from supporters of the status quo, school choice is rapidly gaining in popularity.
The number of charter schools has nearly quadrupled since 1999. But they still serve only a tiny minority of our students. And you literally have to win the lottery in many areas to get your child into one of them because supply outstrips demand.
We propose a federal law requiring every state that accepts federal educational funds to provide educational freedom accounts for every K-12 student equal to at least 95 percent of the average money spent per pupil in that state.
We’re not alone in advocating such a solution. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, founded by the late Milton Friedman and his wife, recently said education savings accounts – essentially the same as the education freedom accounts we propose – are “the way of the future.”
The idea is simple: Put the public money used to educate our children into accounts parents can use to send their children to any state-approved school.
We’ll win this fight eventually. But why wait? The kids in school today will only get one chance at a good education. For them, delay means never.
The arguments against our proposal come down to one thing: Too many parents will take their kids out of their neighborhood public schools.
That’s the essence of slavery: You don’t get to make the choices that affect your life. We’ll make them for you.
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago this month. Now it’s time to free America’s parents and students from educational slavery. It’s time to end the education plantation.
John Conlin is founder of End the Education Plantation. He is a self-employed management consultant who lives in Littleton, Colo.