School Choice Double Team

, Anna Corley, Leave a comment


Two advocates for parents’ rights in education—one of them a congressman—laid out the case for school choice at the Heritage Foundation’s weekly bloggers briefing on May 24, 2011.

Jack Klenk, the author of a recent report from the Family Research Council entitled, “Who Should Decide How Children are Educated?” spent 27 years in the Department of Education.

“Parents pay for public education through man­datory taxes,” he points out in the report. “Most send their children to pub­lic schools, attend parent-teacher meetings, encourage their children to do homework, and bake cookies for school events.”

“However, deci­sions about what schools their children attend and what education programs the schools use are typically made by the system’s own profession­als.” As Klenk notes in the report, many parents are just saying no to this arrangement.

“In 1993, 80 percent of children attended the pub­lic schools to which they were assigned,” he notes in the report.  “By 2007, the figure was 73 percent. During that same pe­riod, the percentage of children in chosen public schools rose from 11 to 16 percent.”

“In religious private schools, it rose from 8 to 9 percent, and in private nonsectarian schools, it rose from 2 to 3 percent. Parents who choose schools are more satisfied than parents who do not. In 2007, 52 percent of parents with children in assigned pub­lic schools were very satisfied with their children’s schools, compared to 62 percent of parents of children in chosen public schools, 79 percent of parents of children in religious private schools, and 79 percent of parents of children in nonsec­tarian private schools.”

Yet and still, at the bloggers briefing, Klenk proclaimed his belief that the right of parental choice has nothing to do with better test scores or a higher graduation rate. The rights of parents stems solely from natural rights.  The increase in benefits from parental choice happens to merely be well, a benefit.  Even if there were no proven benefits, it would still be the parents’ right to choose. He said that American society was breaking down because parents are disenfranchised. He told the audience that without any stake in their child’s education, parents are left feeling helpless.

United States Representative Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, one of the 87 freshman congressmen, also spoke passionately about education, advocating for universal school vouchers. Early in his career, while in Chicago, Congressman Walsh worked in education. He taught as well as worked for a privately funded school voucher program.

The Congressman joined the briefing after attending Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin  Netanyahu’s triumphant address to Congress.

Anna Corley is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.

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