Empowering Parents with Quality Options: School Choice Today

January 27, 2013 posted by StudentsFirst


Why School Choice?

Education is often described as America's "great equalizer," a powerful social force that can level the playing field and create opportunity for all kids regardless of their family background. Unfortunately, our current education system isn't helping spur that kind of social mobility for enough children. In fact, a child's zip code can predict a child's level of academic success with reasonable accuracy. That's both wrong and something we must address as a nation. Rather than consigning children and families to one school option, we must offer all parents, not just those who are economically well-off, the chance to choose which school their child will attend.

In America today, the primary way that parents exercise school choice is by moving to a neighborhood with high-quality schools. Typically the better the schools, the more expensive the homes; thus, this choice is largely a luxury enjoyed by middle-class and wealthy families. Parents who don't have the means to move to a neighborhood with high-performing schools are usually left with little or no choice. For them, sending their children to school everyday can be a heart-wrenching experience because, too often, their single school option is one that is failing to adequately prepare kids for a bright future. These families are quite literally trapped.

We are, however, starting to see a shift toward more choice for families in communities nationwide. District, state, and federal policymakers are creating a bolder vision for what public education can look like -- one in which all parents -- not just those who can afford it -- have a say in where their kids go to school. Not only does this empower parents, but it has the power to once again turn our schools into engines of social mobility and places that help ensure all children get a fair shot at the American dream.

You can download and read the School Choice brief here.