School choice battles aren’t a ‘culture war’ — they’re the defense of a fundamental liberty
Parents finally got fed up with attempted indoctrination of their children at taxpayer-funded public schools and their votes led to a surge in legislative victories for school choice. States such as Arizona, Iowa, Utah and West Virginia now boast some of the strongest pro-school choice laws in the country. A long and growing list of states including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas have promising school-choice programs in the works as well.
This is an important legislative success, certainly, but it’s more than that. It’s a symbolically significant victory for state-level politics — and for the parental rights they’ve begun to protect.
“Parental rights” aren’t a new legal or political concept. The struggle to defend them in America goes back more than 100 years. The Supreme Court ruled in a 1925 case, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, that parents had a constitutional right to direct the education of their children, concluding unanimously that “the fundamental liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”
But what is new is the wave of governor- and state legislature-led defenses of school choice programs. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ran a re-election campaign on parental rights, won and promptly signed a school voucher bill that will allow tax-paying parents to establish “education savings accounts” to offset the cost of private education.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox just signed a bill establishing scholarship accounts that would similarly help parents of K-12 children in the state use their taxpayer dollars to fund educational programs of their choice.
These bills aren’t just important because they could help dramatically reshape the incentive structures of our public education system and result in better overall outcomes for our children. They’re also important because American parents have a right to something better than mandatory, accountability-free indoctrination of their children at the hands of a failing and increasingly inefficient public school system.
The fight for parental rights in school choice is more than an administrative one. It’s not a “culture war,” either. It’s a fight for the integrity of our families, of our children’s futures, and for the basic constitutionally-ordered liberties upon which our nation was founded.
Parental rights are important because the project of education itself is at stake: Education, the enterprise that will prepare America’s next generation of fathers, mothers, entrepreneurs, justices, tradesmen, educators, preachers and legislators for their life’s work.
If we lose our ability to prepare our children rightly, and well, for their lives as American citizens, we lose our future, we lose the family — and we risk losing one of our most cherished and important liberties along with it.
So, keep voting for men and women who will lead states’ defense of school-choice programs. Keep advocating for yourselves and for your children. In doing so, you are building a freer and fuller future for America, state by state, family by family.
Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Follow him on Twitter @FaithandFreedom.
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