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National School Choice Week Whistle-Stop Tour rolls into Austin

NSCW bus parked at the Capitol
NSCW bus parked at the Capitol
Lou Ann Anderson

National School Choice week is currently underway. As events take place across the country, Austin has been no exception.

On Monday, the National School Choice Week Whistle-Stop Tour rolled into the Capitol to highlight the ongoing battle to increase educational options for families here in Texas.

The message is simple. It’s time to end government bureaucrats’ abilities to assign kids to schools based on parents’ zip code. Parents – not school officials or anyone else – should choose the school they think offers their children the greatest opportunity for success.

If income equality is truly a priority, ensuring all children the opportunity for a quality education would go a long way to that end. Education offers upward mobility and opportunities for achievement of the American Dream. Why would we not do all possible to assist such an effort?

Education is the largest single item in most state budgets. Funding has grown faster than student enrollment yet research has shown more funding has not improved student performance. The U.S. spends more than most industrialized countries yet our student performance doesn’t reflect this outlay. It’s time for re-thinking education delivery systems and empowering all parents with school choice.

Child-centered – not education-centered – options are critical to our future success. Expanded school choice driven by empowered families and featuring free market, consumer-driven reforms will provide the path to improved schools, student outcomes and parental satisfaction with their children’s education.

Americans for Prosperity offers these recommendations:

  • Increasing school choice improves student outcomes. School choice improves academic outcomes by allowing students to find the schools that best match their child’s needs. School choice creates competition and incentivizes teachers and administrators to improve the quality of their education, or risk losing students and funding. School choice frees students and teachers from the one-size-fits-all bureaucratic restraints of the traditional education system. Expanding school choice leads to higher student achievement, parental satisfaction, and college attendance. Choice not only improves the education for students who exercise choice, but those who remain in the public school system also benefit as schools are less crowded and teachers are allowed to focus on different student needs. Competing for students/education dollars gives schools a strong incentive to improve.
  • Expanding school choice helps students from low income households. Currently, parents with mobility can move to a better school district, or may have the financial means to home school or to pay for a private school education. Those hurt most by the current system are low income students who are often trapped in failing inner city schools. No child should be condemned to a failing, unsafe government-run school because of where they live, or because of parents’ inability to afford private school tuition. We shouldn’t be assigning children to government schools based on their zip code and their family’s financial situation. Every single child deserves the opportunity to get a great education – and today our system is failing to provide opportunities those who are most vulnerable.
  • Teachers benefit from school choice. According to the National Bureau for Economic Research, good teachers would benefit from school choice. Research shows that teacher salaries increase as schools shift their focus toward producing educational outcomes and attracting parents. Research has shown that non-teaching staff numbers have grown dramatically faster than teacher ranks or student enrollment. We don’t need more dollars for education – we should be demanding more education for our dollars.