School choice can save children and save our education system

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“The group of mother, father, and child is the chief educational agency of mankind,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet for years our educational system has done its best to ignore parents and discourage participation. This must change.

Across the country and here in the Golden State, a revolution in education is underway. Engaging and empowering parents helps improve quality and provide more educational options for families. And as we approach National School Choice Week, we can recognize the ways in which giving parents more and better options is improving education — and ultimately the future — for millions of children.

There are a variety of school choice options available to many of the 9.2 million children living in California. Families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, virtual academies, and home schooling.

There is no one size fits all – each child has their own unique talents, needs, interests, challenges and learning style. This is why it is essential that parents have options. School choice ensures that we can respond to students’ unique qualities or challenges, providing parents with a wide range of educational options for their children.

School choice includes charter schools, taxpayer-funded academies with more flexibility and accountability than traditional public schools. School choice also includes open enrollment, where parents can place their students in public schools outside of their traditional neighborhood boundaries.

Other school options for parents emphasize specialized or non-traditional learning. For example, California magnet schools offer programs in math, science, arts, or other focused subjects. And virtual schools, along with a variety of blended learning options, give students the opportunity to study outside of the traditional classroom setting.

This effort to give parents more options gives the ultimate stakeholder in a child’s education the ultimate form of school responsibility – the power to choose the right school that is in the child’s best interest. No one, no matter how well-meaning, can champion a student’s cause better than their own parents. And no parent should face the helplessness and disillusionment that comes from seeing their child stuck in a failing school or in a classroom that does not meet the student’s academic or physical needs.

Across the state, parents have led the school choice movement every step of the way, demanding more and better options for their sons and daughters. This grassroots advocacy and movement for greater accountability is transforming our educational landscape in California.

The school choice movement could not have come at a better time, as poor school performance demonstrates the inability to address the challenges facing our current education system. Last week, the California Department of Education released a new study reporting that students suffered academically during the 2020-2021 school year amid COVID-19 lockdowns. Unfortunately, 41% of students at all grade levels did not meet math standards.

And equally troubling, minority students have fared less academically, with more than 60% of black and Latino students failing to meet English standards and around 80% of minority students failing to meet English language expectations. mathematics. Various California studies have shown that the pandemic and significantly disadvantage low-income and minority students due to a lack of available resources like computers and WiFi.

That’s why it’s important for parents to advocate for increased accountability, promote new and innovative educational models, and encourage students to love learning by placing them in the school that best meets their needs.

From January 23-29, parents, teachers and students across California will come together at more than 2,000 events to celebrate National School Choice Week. These activities celebrate the efforts of many long-time supporters, including passionate parents, to make the dream of school choice a reality for millions of students. By improving our education system, these engaged parents are making a difference, not just for their own children, but for our entire state.

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