Education freedom is a concept that has gained significant attention and support in recent years.
In fact, three states that border Georgia – North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida — now have universal or near-universal education savings accounts (ESA) which allow parents to use the funds associated with their child’s education to choose the right educational setting for their child. Georgia came close to adopting a limited ESA program last year, and that issue will return for the 2024 session.
At its core, education freedom is about empowering parents and students to have more control over their education by allowing them to choose an education that best fits their needs.
This system is ultimately the best for students and parents, which is why a recent poll shows that 71% of voters favor school choice.
As the world becomes more advanced, our delivery of education must advance as well.
Let’s examine some reasons why empowering parents works.
1. It provides the opportunity for personalized education.
Every student is unique, with their own learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. By allowing parents to choose from various educational options, students can find an environment that caters to their specific needs and interests.
Traditional public schools simply cannot serve the unique needs of every child. But education freedom opens the door to alternatives that offer unique programs, teaching methods and curricula.
For example, a student with a strong interest in the arts can attend a performing arts school. A child with a passion for science can enroll in a STEM-focused charter school. Stay-at-home moms and dads can give their children a tailored education through homeschooling.
All of this personalization ensures that each student has a better chance of thriving academically and in their life as a student. These options have always been available to wealthy families who can afford them, but school choice provides fairness to education.
The options for students are numerous. According to National School Choice Week, in addition to public schools, school choice options include public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, homeschool, online learning, and microschool, or combinations of the above.
2. Education freedom empowers parents to take an active role in their children’s education.
It recognizes that parents are in a unique position to make informed decisions about their child’s educational needs. When parents can choose the school that aligns with their values and priorities, they become more engaged in the educational process. This can foster a stronger partnership between schools and families, as well as parents and their children. This connection between parental involvement and school choice is evident in Florida, which was recently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for both “parental involvement” and “choice programs.”
3. School choice policies can address educational inequality.
America is the land of opportunity, and education choice programs grant opportunity to marginalized people throughout the country. In many areas, students from low-income backgrounds are trapped in underperforming schools with limited opportunities. Education freedom breaks down these barriers by offering all families access to high-quality educational options that may not have been accessible. This gives students a better chance and promotes socioeconomic mobility, reducing the cycle of poverty.
4. School choice promotes competition—a powerful driver of improvement.
Competition is what drives success in the private sector by motivating people and organizations to improve. If you’re like many people, you’d rather have a package delivered by Amazon than the post office. The same goes for education.
When parents have the ability to choose from various schools, all schools must work harder to attract and retain students. This competition encourages school administrators and teachers to strive for excellence, to innovate and to provide a high-quality education.
5. Education freedom removes politics from the classroom.
By expanding education options, we take controversial and politicized topics in education out of the hands of the government and allow parents to have greater control over what their children are learning.
Educational freedom ensures that families can align their children’s education with their core values. This decentralization of educational authority moves the control away from the government, reducing the likelihood of partisan agendas or controversial issues permeating curricula. As a result, parents can prioritize their child’s educational experience, aligning it with their fundamental beliefs, ultimately fostering a more diverse and less restrictive educational landscape that respects the autonomy of individual families.
6. School choice encourages innovation in education.
When educators and school leaders have the freedom to experiment with new teaching methods, technologies, and curricula, they can discover what works best for their students. This experimentation can lead to the development of innovative educational approaches that can benefit all students in the long run.
By giving parents the freedom to choose the best educational options for their children, we can create a more dynamic educational system that ultimately benefits all students.