5 Reasons It’s Time for School Choice in Arkansas

5 Reasons It’s Time for School Choice in Arkansas

Parents know their children best and understand the environment that will help them succeed, and this is why a child’s parents will be the best judge of where their children attend school. It only makes sense that since their children are educated by attending school with their tax dollars, parents can decide what school is the best option for their child. I believe variety and competition in education will lead to a better education experience. Competition arises through choice, which fosters innovation and results in excellence for our students.

As a parent, ensuring that your child’s education is a top priority. Unfortunately, parents’ control over their children’s education differs greatly depending on where they live. The location of school district lines can divide communities in half, and the results may even be worse because your child doesn’t receive the type of care that will help them thrive in their learning environment.

Education is fundamental to providing mobility in neighborhoods with high crime rates, unemployment, and health problems. Choosing an alternative school can help students escape situations where bullying and gang activity are present, distracting and diminishing their education.

School choice increases academic achievement and has been shown to reduce racial and economic segregation drastically. According to a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, participation in school choice programs increased secondary school completion rates among low-income children by 15–20 percent. The education playing field is leveled by enabling parents to send their children to the school of their choice regardless of where they live.

Five of the top reasons that it’s time to enact school choice:

  • Parents are more likely to be satisfied and involved when they have a choice of schools. Most parents who use school choice report being more satisfied with the school their child attends.
  • Schools can face setbacks due to economic segregation, and school choice provides low-income families with options. It eliminates the arbitrary link between a child’s housing and their ability to attend school. In other words, a family’s ability to afford a home no longer determines their child’s access to education that meets their needs. In turn, this means that school choice provides access to quality education without requiring a family to buy an expensive home or pay twice as much for their child to attend school.
  • Additionally, studies have frequently shown that school choice programs work to save taxpayer dollars despite the mainstream media’s commonly pushed narrative.
  • School choice options increase the overall quality of local schools since competition is a factor that spurs improvement.
  • Direct accountability for parents is created by school choice. Parents who are not satisfied with their children’s education can take their children and tax dollars to other schools, which provides schools a strong incentive to meet their students’ needs. A market-based education system places parents as direct stakeholders. In contrast, the more centralized, top-down schools have limited feedback to steer their development. Policymakers should trust parents and educators to innovate and collaborate while meeting the needs of their student population.

In summary, we must recognize that the availability of options in education is a positive development. Education is not a “one-size-fits-all” system, and the best public school won’t work for every student, nor will the best private school work for another. Our student population is no longer the same as years ago. The educational industry can offer all the different modalities and choices of education that students today want and need. To meet this challenge, all of us have to work together. This is why we must create school choice programs to work for our citizens and take Arkansas onward and upward to the next level of academic achievement.

Max Avery for Arkansas