Logging on to the website of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, the first flashing headline that meets the eye attacks Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “Betsy DeVos and Her No Good, Very Bad Record on Public Education.”
What perturbs the NEA is that DeVos sees her mission as education, which is not necessarily only “public education.”
Surely, Secretary DeVos’ new initiative, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, which has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz and in the House by Rep. Bradley Byrne, has the teachers unions on edge.
Education Freedom Scholarships provides dollar-for-dollar federal tax credits to those who voluntarily contribute to state-controlled and administered “Scholarship Granting Organizations” to whom parents can turn for funds to send their child to any school of their choice.
No, this does not expand federal control over education. It just provides a new source of federal funds to support state-administered programs that will help enable parental choice in education.
The proposed $5 billion in financing doesn’t even amount to one percent of the $654 billion now being spent annually on K-12 education.
Education freedom is still a relatively new idea. Twenty years ago, platforms enabling parents to choose where to send their child to school were nonexistent.
Today, 482,000 children are participating in some kind of education choice program — either through vouchers, tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts.
Which is still miniscule given that we have 56.6 million children attending K-12 schools and 50.7 million in public schools.
Why is parental choice so vitally important?
The education choice movement got started on the idea of competition. We know from our marketplace that nothing produces excellence like competition.
So why shouldn’t we have it in something so vitally importance as education?
In 24 states plus Washington, D.C., public schools are required by law to provide sex education. What are the children being taught?
So freedom and competition in education is not just about a better product. It’s about freedom to determine what the product is.
In a nation where the pillars of marriage and family have broken down, we must allow wisdom and understanding to be again taught. We must allow parents, particularly low-income parents, to send their children to Christian schools.
In a nation where the incidence of out-of-marriage births has quadrupled over the last half-century and the incidence of marriage has dropped 33 percent, we need education that conveys wisdom and understanding to our children.
In a free country, this can only done through education freedom and parental choice.
Three cheers to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at www.urbancure.org