Every Family Deserves a Choice in Education

Every Family Deserves a Choice in Education
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Education holds the key to unlocking the full potential of all children. A high-quality education can equip a child with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue the American dream.

Unfortunately, today millions of students remain stuck in schools that aren’t allowing them to thrive. Their parents want an educational environment that works better for their children, but are told “no” — by bureaucratic school systems, by politicians, or by those who have a stake in preserving the status quo regardless of its consequences for students. 

We trust parents with all kinds of important choices for their children: what they eat, the media they consume, who they spend time with, and what happens during the 130 hours a week they are not in school. So when it comes to their children’s education, why do we refuse to give parents the freedom to choose?

National School Choice Week is a time for us to celebrate those schools and innovative learning organizations that are giving students a better chance: public charter, private, magnet, faith-based, home, districts with open enrollment, virtual, and many traditional public schools. All of these provide environments in which students can flourish.

Since National School Choice Week’s inception seven years ago, the demand for more and better educational options has grown across the country. The reason is simple: The more students and parents are empowered with the freedom to choose their education, the more they like it. 

Today, every state and the District of Columbia offers residents some form of public or private education choice. We applaud states for recognizing and responding to the will of America’s families, and we encourage state and local leaders to continue expanding the number of quality options available to students.

Choice in education should not be restricted only to the wealthy or powerful. All families should be able to choose the best education for their children, because every child deserves to learn in a school that meets his or her needs. 

Choice does not mean elevating any one type of school over another. Rather, it is about providing a diverse and dynamic menu of high-quality and innovative offerings from which families can choose. Any school that effectively educates children contributes to the public good. We should care less about the word that comes before “school” and more about whether that school is preparing its students to succeed.

Parents know their children’s unique needs better than any government official — making parents best-positioned to determine the right learning environment for their children. 

We should trust and empower parents to make that decision.

Betsy DeVos is the United States Secretary of Education. Lamar Alexander is a U.S. Senator from Tennessee and chairs the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Virginia Foxx is a U.S. Representative from North Carolina and chairs the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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