To Improve Students Education, Set Their Parents Free
By David Holcberg (Waterbury Republican-American, November 16, 2007; Winnipeg Free Press, February 2, 2008; Baltimore Sun, February 8, 2008; Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2008; Tallahassee Democrat, March 23, 2008; Tampa Tribune, April 3, 2008; Miami Herald, April 25, 2008)
In all the controversy over how to improve education in America's failing government schools, one thing seems to be missing: the idea that schools and teachers should be accountable to parents, not to the federal government.
If politicians are concerned with raising achievement among children enrolled in government schools, one important thing they can do is to give parents the option to enroll their children in a private school of their choice. This can be done, for example, by giving parents tax credits to be spent in their children's education. The tax credits could be equivalent to what the government spends per student in its schools.
With tax credits in hand, parents would be able to shop around for the best private schools. They would be able to get their kids out of failing government schools and into schools they believe would give their children a much better education.
If parents later find out that their choice of school was mistaken, they would still be able to try other schools. This freedom of choice would not guarantee a good education for their children (even private schools can do a poor job) but it would at least give parents control over their children's education and would also put pressure on government schools to improve the quality of the education they provide.
Government schools that failed to improve would likely lose their students--and justly so.
If any politician really wants to improve the education of students currently attending government schools, he can start by doing a simple thing: Set their parents free.