by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If anyone needed a wake-up call about the urgent need to expand school choice, last week’s release of student achievement data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress is the loudest alarm clock we have heard in years. It should jolt every family, every school, and every elected official into action.
The numbers are sobering: only 41% of our nation’s fourth graders are proficient in math and only 35% are proficient in reading. As students get older, the outlook looks even bleaker: only 34% of eighth graders are proficient in reading and math.
What’s worse is that across almost every metric, with the exception of fourth grade math, student achievement is at lower levels today than it was two years ago.
How can we address these challenges quickly? Some changes need to happen at the school and district level and others need to happen at the state level. All of these changes, though, require a more thorough embrace of, and respect for, the role that parents play in their children’s education. …
… For bigger, broader improvements that can benefit a generation or more, states must take action to expand school choice.
Programs such as education savings accounts, opportunity scholarships, open enrollment in traditional public schools, and expanded charter school authorization can help make educational choices more widely available to families across the nation. Research tells us that when parents are provided with a variety of school choice options for their children’s education graduation rates increase and students are better prepared for their futures.