Parents deserve the freedom of choice when it comes to their child's education.
Parents know better than anyone else what type of school will work best for their child, that is why all parents should be free to choose. Students should not be forced to attend a school simply based on where they live.
School choice means different things to different people. To us, school choice means that parents are given good information about the schools in their community so they may decide for themselves which school will be a good fit for their child- whether that choice is a traditional public, public charter, or private school matters less than the quality of education received.
Policies to promote school choice are socially just and empower all families- regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how much money they have in the bank- to choose a quality education for their child.
School choice policies are not designed to harm public schools. In fact, they make our public school system stronger. Exercising school choice means evaluating all options and selecting the one that best meets the needs of the child- whether that choice is a traditional public, public charter, or private school. If parents have accurate information and the freedom to choose where they send their child, every type of school will respond with higher expectations, improved instruction, and strong leadership.
The implications of a failing education system are staggering, including high levels of crime, unemployment, and incarceration. For these reasons, access to a quality education is a civil rights issue.
Six reasons for giving parents freedom to choose quality education options:
- An estimated 1.1 million students failed to graduate with a diploma in 2011. That is 6,000 dropouts a day or one dropout every 29 seconds.
- Nearly half (48 percent) of public schools across the country are labeled as failing, and they serve a disproportionate number of minority students.
- Only 24 percent of eighth and 12th grade students have solid writing skills. Students who qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program scored 27 points below students from families with higher incomes.
- The national achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students is 27 points.
- Students who drop out of school are twice as likely to end up in poverty.
- The United States is ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math in the world.
In Indiana, there are currently 91 public charter schools serving more than 41,000 students. The Choice Scholarship (voucher) program serves more than 34,000 students making it the largest school voucher program in the country. Yet the largest form of school choice in Indiana is still public to public transfer with approximately 44,000 students transferring from the traditional school which they were assigned to a new traditional public school.
Regardless of where a student lives or what type of school they choose to attend, quality course options are also important. Indiana must level the playing field when it comes to ensuring all students may access excellent curriculum through options such as Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate programs, Career and Technical Education courses, and highly effective Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers.
Quality, world-class educational opportunities should be available to all Hoosier students, whether in the public or the private school systems.