This week, Jan. 21-26, is National School Choice Week. So what is school choice and why is it important? I got to ask these questions of Dr. Vicki Alger, IWF Senior fellow and education policy expert, in a discussion on Facebook Live today.
To sum it up: School choice means a lot of different policy measures, like support for private schools, charter schools, online learning or homeschooling, as well as Education Savings Accounts that give families freedom over more education dollars. But the principle behind all of these policy approaches is the same: Every family should be in control of their child's education. There's no "average" child or "standard" child… Parents know what's best for their individual child or children, and we should allow them to have maximum choice.
I asked Vicki about the concern some critics of school choice have — namely that school choice will harm traditional public schools. Her answer focused on the empirical evidence out of Arizona, where she lives:
We were the first to have a whole variety of non-public school choice options, in addition to an expansive array of public options as well. So if public schools anywhere were going to be harmed, it would be right here in Arizona. But guess what we've seen? If you look at the nation's report card… Arizona leads the nation in improvement for low-income children, African-American children, and Hispanic/Latino children… Take a look at the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best public high schools in the country. Guess which state dominates? It's Arizona. We have more in the top 25 than California and New York combined… So our public schools are doing great. They're more responsive, and they're becoming more innovative. Why? Because you give parents freedom, you give schools freedom, and everybody finds a place that's a good fit for them.
Vicki also mentioned that she's a step-mom to four kids, all of whom are in public schools. She stressed that she would never advocate for a policy that would harm them.
The whole 11-minute conversation is worth watching. If you missed the live video, you can see it here:
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