“School Choice” sounds like an excellent idea for those who love liberty and value individualism. However, this slogan has varying definitions depending on which state is having the discussion. Many states limit parents’ God-given right to educate their children as they see fit. In these states, “school choice” means easing the regulatory burdens placed on parents who wish to educate their children outside of a public school setting. These regulatory burdens can include testing students, requiring parents to hold teaching certificates or college degrees, requiring a certain number of logged hours for specific subjects, requiring school district oversight of curriculum, and even home visits. In these instances, “school choice” can be a good thing.
Texas is extremely unique in that regulatory burdens outside of a public school setting do not exist, except in the more rare instances that a school district or the Department of Family Protective Services overstep their statutory authority. Parents are currently free to choose from public, charter, parochial, traditional private- both accredited and non-accredited- and homeschool- both accredited and non-accredited. There is no state database of registered homeschooled students, no mandatory testing, no curriculum check-ins, nothing.
But while these freedoms exist, the tax burdens which exist to fund public schools also exist for every individual and family, regardless of where their children go to school and also regardless of whether or not they have children at all.
So the current discussion around “School Choice” in Texas is not about options in education or regulatory burdens. It is entirely about FUNDING.
Some folks want politicians- the ones responsible for getting public schools into the mess they are in- to pass laws that will have our tax dollars “following the child” into private schools and homeschools. Some claim this will lead to minimal, acceptable regulation of homeschools, and others claim this transfer of funds can happen with no regulations at all.
Government money inevitably comes with government strings, and any private entity that accepts tax dollars must be accountable to taxpayers for every dollar and dime that is spent. In addition, the idea of a “no strings attached” approach to a government program should be antithetical to any fiscally responsible legislator.
Bottom line: We already have school choice, and we would really like to keep it that way.
Links to Important “School Choice” Articles (Coming Soon)