Over the last century our economy has drastically evolved, yet our education system is stuck in the past. Just three decades ago, homeschooling was illegal in 30 states. Today, as concern grows over school safety and effective academic instruction, homeschooling has largely become a preference for many parents. Approximately 1.5 million children are homeschooled, saving taxpayers between $4 and $10 billion in instructional costs annually. But the benefits don’t just stop at the costs. Evaluations of homeschooled students show high academic performance and suggest that homeschooling leads to positive life outcomes, including high college attendance rates.
Another solution, charter schools, was only an experimental idea 20 years ago. Since, they have become an extremely popular educational option with
more than 2 million students attending approximately 5,600 charter schools around the country today. A recent Department of Education study found that parents of charter school students are more satisfied with their children’s schools and rate them higher than parents of students in traditional public schools. Parents also report substantially greater satisfaction with their child’s academic and social development.
Want the best of both worlds? Online learning is customizable, meets a wide range of learning needs and is unrestricted by geographic boundaries. Though all students have the opportunity to benefit from this option, children with disabilities have the most to gain with the chance to learn at their own pace. Students in neighborhoods that would never have had access to Advanced Placement courses or unique foreign languages are now given these options through a virtual education. Online courses also offer flexibility for teachers and students allowing them to teach or learn at an effective pace.
It seems like common sense to give parents options when it comes to their children’s education, but many of our politicians are stuck in the past. Adding new taglines like “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” might make for good headline, but the cosmetic changes to our education policy do nothing to actually prepare our children for success in the global economy.
Offering parents the freedom to choose an educational program that best fits the learning needs of their child is essential to creating a prosperous
learning environment and building the foundation for a bright future. It’s time for us to say goodbye to failing education policies of the past and start funding solutions that actually work. This year, as Congress discusses changes to education policy, let’s push for real reform. Another tagline won’t help our children.
Moroney is the director of communications at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.