As Americans have slowly recovered from the now 10-year-old recession, enrollment in private schools has increased dramatically.
“Between 2013 and 2015, enrollment at private schools increased 7 percent nationally, according to a biennial count of private school students released in August by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics,” the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, reported in October. “That continued the positive trend that started with a 2 percent increase from 2011 to 2013.”
The National Center for Education Statistics report coincides with a survey released this week by EdChoice, which found the “schooling options military parents are able to access now don’t match what they want for their children.” When military parents are informed about school choice programs, the survey results show “support for those programs increases dramatically.”
When given the opportunity, parents across the country flock to private schools, and military families, who already sacrifice so much to defend the rest of us, say they’d like to participate in school choice programs, too. So why are education choice programs still available only to such a small percentage of U.S. families?
As the results of the EdChoice survey suggest, people still don’t know much about school choice. Even worse, it’s likely what they do know has been tainted by teachers unions’ misinformation campaigns, which are crafted to trick the public into believing school choice is out to “destroy” public education for needy kids and that private schools are often not held accountable and aren’t as good as public ones.
First, why should a reasonable person listen to a group of people that’s doing such a poor job of educating America’s children? Pew Research reported earlier in 2017, “U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries.”
Second, fair-minded Americans should consider the source of these claims. Of course government employees are going to do everything in their power, even lie, to make people believe what they have to offer is better than what non-government schools provide. Do you implicitly trust Pizza Hut when they tell you the tasty offerings at Domino’s are less healthy and not as delicious? Of course not — or at least not without strong evidence in support of the assertion.
Public school teachers aren’t even sold on their own schools. “A fifth of all school teachers with school-age children has placed a child in a private school,” and nearly three out of 10 have used one or more of the main alternatives to the traditional public school — private school, charter school and homeschooling,” two EducationNext scholars reported in 2016.
“School teachers are much more likely to use a private school than are other parents,” the EducationNext report adds. “No less than 20 percent of teachers with school age children, but only 13 percent of non-teachers, have sent one or more of their children to private school. Teachers are also just as likely to make use of a charter school or to homeschool their child as other parents.”
An article published in the Chicago Tribune earlier in 2017 similarly reported, “Four out of 10 Chicago teachers are willing to pay money to keep their kids from attending the schools where they teach.”
Despite the fact many teachers choose not to subject their children to failing public schools, they continue to insist the rest of us ought to send our kids to their lousy institutions. And for what purpose? In most cases, so they can keep their jobs, many of which are benefit-laden and relatively cushy.
Families yearn for the same freedom in education they enjoy in nearly every other aspect of their lives. Public school teachers, though most of them would never admit it, also want education freedom, but too many teachers are concerned about themselves to allow families — even military families — to have the liberty to opt for educational alternatives. Lawmakers should stop standing in parents’ way and give to regular folks what many teachers already have: the freedom to send their kids to any school they want.