School Choice: What We Have isn’t the BEST for ALL Children

By Dr. Karen Hiltz

As with most issues people are either for or against, and school choice is no different. Regardless of where one stands though, the question is “Do states really offer school choice?” Ponder that for a minute by considering the various programs states currently offer.

What are the Choices?

First, let’s be factual. School choice actually consists of just three options: public, private, and homeschool. Legislated programs such as charters, scholarships, vouchers, tax credits, or other nuanced versions are almost entirely devoted to and fall under the authority of public education. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part the public system has dominion over existing programs.

So, what are the types of programs parents have access to for educating their children? This is where educational choice meets reality. Each state has its own constitutional authority to legislate programs they believe will meet the needs of their citizens. That’s why one state allows charter schools while another state does not. Same goes for scholarships and tax credit programs. Each is particular to the state and what the government determines to be fair and reasonable and will benefit the state. Wait – I thought our elected officials were to ensure a quality education is provided for ALL children! Just a thought.

Now don’t get me wrong – I believe the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives authority to the states and I would prefer it remain that way. The federal government should not be involved in education, primarily because it’s silent with regards to education and therefore not constitutionally based. In fact, states’ rights allow each state to frame an education system specific to their population, which further increases this notion of choice based on the freedom to move from one state to another.