For centuries, parents had little choice as to where their children went to school. Those families without economic means to place their children in private schools had no options. Children were placed in schools solely based on their geographic location. Unfortunately, some parents were left feeling that their children were not receiving the best education they could. One answer to this problem was school of choice.
School of choice offers parents and students the opportunity to pic from a wide variety of programs for education. Examples include open enrolment, charter schools, private schools, deductions and credits for school related expenses, home schooling and vouchers. In theory, none of these options is better than the rest; however, practically speaking, in many instances simply changing to a different public school will offer a student educational opportunities not previously available to them.
It should come as no surprise that, like most educational issues, schools of choice are a hotly contested topic. Supporters of the concept believe that it is beneficial in several ways. First, by allowing parents to choose which public school their children attend, competition will be fostered, leading to better schools. Second, several studies conclude that privately run institutions are more cost effective than traditional options while providing students with a better education.
There is a down side as well, with many opponents believing that only families with substantial financial means or those living in healthy environments can effectively make school of choice work for them. They remind us that public and private schools all rely on the same guidelines and that switching the student body from one format to the other will have little effect.
We all want the best for our children and perhaps allowing us to choose who educates our students is the best. But consider this: wouldn’t our children be better off if we had better options for them?