Raising the Standard.

Choosing to Thrive

When the choice was school or no school. (“Crack the Whip”, Winslow Homer)

In April, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry said in an ad that “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” What Harris-Perry (not so) subtly implied was that the federal government should not only play an active role in education, but is better equipped to make decisions regarding a child’s education than are his parents or family.

Harris-Perry’s creepy dream of communally-raised children is, unfortunately, similar to the nanny-state education system the Obama administration seeks to implement.  From universal kindergartens to a Common Core requirement, President Obama’s plan for education leaves very little room for parental involvement — or more importantly, parental choice.

What the President fails to recognize is that parents often do know better than the government about what’s best for their children. However, they often lack the economic ability or freedom to provide what’s best. School choice options like opportunity scholarships, charter schools and education savings accounts ensure that every student has access to quality education, regardless of zip code.

The Obama administration has waged war against school choice and its supporters.  Its latest battle is a lawsuit against the school voucher program instituted by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.  The Louisiana Scholarship Program allows families in public schools that have received a C, D or F grade to receive a state voucher to cover tuition at a private school.

The Justice Department has charged that the program reinforces racial segregation in Louisiana’s public schools and is demanding that Louisiana seek federal approval before issuing any vouchers.

Once again, the administration has ignored the facts. Seven different studies have shown that school choice actually promotes integration, not segregation. In reality, Louisiana’s and similar school choice programs empower families to remove students from failing, racially-divided schools and put them into culturally diverse schools where they can succeed.

Last month, Slate published an article entitled, “If You Don’t Send Your Kid to Public School, You Are a Bad Person.”  The self-described “manifesto” declares:  “You are a bad person if you send your children to private school.  Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad.”  In response to that accusation I ask: when did wanting what’s best for your kid become a bad thing?

THE EDITORS: Sense that what works for one may not be common to all children.

Parents understand that America’s schools are failing to deliver results.  Until the education system is held accountable, they deserve the flexibility and freedom to make common sense choices for their kids.

—Sophie Giberga is a junior studying political science and economics.