From the Journal Record’s article by Jonathan Small.
National School Choice Week is drawing to a close, after no fewer than 484 events and activities across Oklahoma to raise awareness about the importance of parent power.
The idea behind school choice is simple: Parents, not government officials, have the right and the responsibility to direct their children’s upbringing. Political leaders have a duty to secure that right.
There is no one “correct” school choice. Think about it: Oklahoma has more than 700,000 students; how could there be one “right” way to educate them all?
Most Oklahoma kids are in traditional public schools. But many parents wish they had other options.
A Cor Strategies survey last year asked likely Oklahoma voters: “If you could select any type of school in order to obtain the best education for your child, and financial costs and transportation were of no concern, what type of school would you select?”
Almost half said they would choose a traditional public school. Meanwhile, 36 percent said they would choose a private or parochial school, 8 percent would choose home-schooling, and 8 percent would choose a charter school.
Even teachers want more choices. A 2016 SoonerPoll survey commissioned by The Oklahoman found that four in 10 Oklahoma teachers say a private school or home-schooling would be best for their own children.
More work must be done to align policy with Oklahomans’ wishes. The good news is we’ve come a long way already.
Charter schools (both online and brick-and-mortar) already serve thousands of Oklahoma students.
Home-schooling is thriving.
The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program has opened doors for hundreds of students with special needs, foster children, and children adopted out of state custody.
Oklahoma’s education tax credit program is helping autistic children, homeless students, students battling drug addiction, and many more – all while saving the state money. It’s also expanding innovation and building labs in public schools.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright recently praised the Henry Scholarship program. At a debate I moderated last year, Gov. Kevin Stitt voiced support both for the Henry Scholarship program and the tax-credit scholarship program.
In 2019, let’s spend more on education. “At the same time,” as Speaker Charles McCall put it, “we must put parents back in charge of their children’s education and give underprivileged families more options and more opportunity to thrive.”