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February 2014 Policy Study, Number 14-1


Educational Freedom – For Your Child, My Child, All Children





Freedom to Choose, Equality of Education


Income inequality has been a hot topic recently, with a move to raise the minimum wage being led by President Barack Obama and supported by Democrats (and some Republicans) nationwide.  Income inequality is caused by many things and can be analyzed in many ways, but should not be the result of fundamental educational inequality.  Since Brown vs. Board of Education officially cancelled the “separate but equal” policy of educational segregation, the country has been working for, and waiting for, educational equality.


This has not happened, even with billions of new dollars allocated to the government school systems every year.  African-American, Hispanic, and low-income children generally are not learning as much as the majority white children.  This is well documented by a wide variety of tests, including the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and American College Testing/Scholastic Aptitude Test (ACT/SAT) college entrance tests.  Unfortunately, unless the skills and abilities of these children – who will become the young workers needing better jobs to support themselves and their families – are improved they will not be able to earn higher wages.  Until these children are successfully taught to read, write, and do math – their ability to improve their economic circumstances by competing for and getting better, i.e. higher-paying, jobs will not improve, no matter how high the minimum wage is raised.


Unfortunately, they and their parents have not had the freedom within the government-education system to choose where they go to school.  Children generally are assigned to the closest neighborhood school or are bused to a bureaucratically decided location, often for racial balancing reasons.  The newest fad is to assign and bus children in order to balance parental income levels within a school building.  If these are not acceptable options for your child, the only option, generally, has been to personally pay for a private-school education.  Fortunately, more and more states and communities are recognizing that the parents’ right to choose is fundamental to educational equality and economic freedom.  More and more parents, from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, to California, are stepping up and demanding that their children be provided a quality education and that they, not the government, have the right to decide what determines quality for their child and where their child attends school. 


Quality may be the closest neighborhood school, or not.  It may be the school closest to your work, support system, or other family members.  Quality can be a magnet or specialty school that allows the child to intensely study art, music, or science.  Quality can be a school which provides moral or religious instruction.  Quality can be government or privately operated.  Quality can be homeschooling or on-line instruction.  Quality can be a school focusing on special needs children.


The important ingredient to a quality education is that it is not the same for every child or every family. One size does not fit all.




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