Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Students Deserve a Choice

Thousands of families across the country have thousands of unique reasons why their assigned public school does not work for their child’s needs.  These myriad reasons are exactly why educational options are necessary in order to deliver each and every child an education that works best for their individual needs.   For many families – especially those who are low-income – their ability to choose the best education for their child is limited based on financial constraints. 

Parental choice or opportunity scholarship programs are a lifeline that allow low-income families to have the same choices taken for granted by higher income families.  Nearly 250,000 students across the country are seeing the benefits of such programs

Jason Bedrick, Visiting Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, recently drafted a piece for Educationnext in support of scholarship tax credit programs.

“There is clear evidence that students benefit by participating in educational choice programs,” said Bedrick. 

“Under the status quo, wealthy families already have school choice while low-income families do not,” continued Bedrick.  “Wealthy families can afford to live in districts with high-performing government schools or to send their children to private schools. By contrast, low-income families generally only have one choice: the local assigned government school.”

Assigned public schools may work for many students.  For those students not being adequately served by the status quo, educational options are a must!  This sentiment was echoed in a letter to the editor featured in the Tampa Bay Times from Manuel L. Sykes, president, NAACP St. Petersburg.
Writing in support of FL Senator Marco Rubio’s proposed tax credit scholarship bill, Sykes says, “Two-thirds of the 50,000 low-income students on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship are black or Hispanic. They were the lowest performers in the public schools they left behind and are now making the same academic gains as students of all income levels nationally. Just as encouraging, the public schools most impacted by the scholarship are experiencing higher learning gains.”

Whether on the left or the right of the political spectrum, we can all agree that providing the highest quality education to each and every student needs to be our nation’s number one priority.  If the traditional public school does not work for a student, families need every

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