Today is July 31st. Just another day on the calendar for most, but in the school choice movement it means a bit more. Economist Milton Friedman, groundbreaking leader in the field, would have turned 97 years old today.
All over the country, groups are holding events to commemorate the day and to reflect on his legacy. In Columbus, a luncheon will be hosted by the Buckeye Institute in honor of Dr. Friedman’s birthday.
Dr. Friedman was a staunch supporter of universal school choice. While that is an idea that has not yet been fully realized in the United States, aspects of school choice have enjoyed growing success over the years. In Ohio alone, there are three scholarships (or vouchers, if you will) that assist parents in finding an educational environment where they believe their child can be successful. Ohio’s programs are designed for specific groups of students including those living in Cleveland, those who have autism, and those who are assigned to attend Ohio’s lowest performing public schools.
The parents we work with are happy to have those options, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t want more. As a parent myself, I have exercised school choice and my children have benefitted. However, my school choice was not what is typically considered school choice. I purchased a home in the public school district and exact school zone where I believed my children could excel.
Sadly, this is not a realistic option for many parents. Public schools in many of our urban areas, despite many valiant efforts at reform, have continued to struggle. Many times, enrollments have declined. Are the parents of the students in those schools satisfied or simply out of options?
On a personal level, my children are not better or more deserving of a quality education than anyone else’s children. That is one of the reasons I am a strong supporter of giving all parents high quality, public and private educational options.
Sometimes, I am left to wonder if those who oppose school choice would willingly send their children to the public schools in each district considered low performing. If the answer is no, which I expect it often would be, I am troubled by their opposition to giving all parents the educational options they already enjoy.
On this day of reflection, why do you support or oppose school choice?
– Chad Aldis