Is Default School Choice Failing Kids?
In addition to parents who are unaware of choice in education, others may know about choice but perceive that they lack funding for private school tuition, or for transportation to a more distant school. This is still a default choice, if parents fail to realize that choice in education may increase school success in kids. As a parent who once utilized school choice for her own children within the public school system and who now utilizes school choice to homeschool all of her children, I feel qualified to explore this subject.
What is School Choice?
School choice in simple terms is the option that parents have to make a choice in education options for their kids. This could refer to vouchers being given to public school children to attend more competent private schools in the area. It could also mean sending a child to a public school outside of the neighborhood due to incompatible opportunities at the neighborhood school.
For some, it may simply mean making the choice between public, private, and homeschool. There are many ways school choice is exercised, but all have the same goal: a better education for our children. Should there be a default school choice?
Is Default School Choice Failing Kids?
Oftentimes, before the kids are even ready to go to school, parents have it set in their brains the school they will go to. Most often, it is simply the neighborhood school. While there certainly is nothing wrong with sending kids to a neighborhood school, it could be a hindrance to have a default school choice.
Default school choice may be failing many kids. Part of this is because all children do not learn in the same way. Along those same lines, all teachers do not teach the same way either. Nor do all schools use the same curriculum or methods. That's actually a good thing. But only if the advantages to varying curricula and teaching methods are utilized. Otherwise, there isn't much of a point in having so many options if they aren't going to be used with the kids they benefit the most.
Choice in Education May Help Homeschool Thrive
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), in 2009 a new study was released regarding academic achievement of home schooled children. This national study showed children who were homeschooled scoring an average of an entire 30 percentile points higher than those in public schools on all core subjects. As a seasoned home school parent, those results do not surprise me. Why? My personal thoughts taken from experience are that some of that is due to school choice.
Most parents who homeschool are doing so because they want their children to have the best educational options possible. Therefore choice in education methods is at the forefront of many decisions. Many of these parents chose home school as a method, due to their assessment of what would work for their child. With national home school children scoring so much higher than national public school children, could school choice be the answer?
Choice in Education Increases Test Scores And Graduation Rate
In the above example, home school test scores were well above those of children in public school. Now let's take it a step further and compare test scores of other children whose parents exercised school choice. According to the Friedman Foundation, private schools who participated in voucher programs to exercise school choice had higher test scores and graduation rates than public schools. For instance, in Milwaukee in 2003, the graduation rate at private schools who accepted school choice vouchers was 64%. Public schools had a graduation rate of only 34%. The same material, comprised of many studies, mentions children in several states gaining a significant increase in percentile points when participating in a school choice voucher program.
Choice in Education May Increase School Success in Kids
When comparing the data above with my own research and observances over the years and with my varied experiences with school choice, I continually come to the conclusion that choice in education may increase school success. Many other factors will play a role, but taking steps to ensure that the choice of schools reflects a child's actual needs can be a great start, if not a big factor, in a child's school success.