Majority of Minnesotans support expanding educational freedom

Support for school choice policies that would expand educational freedom in Minnesota is strong, according to poll results from Morning Consult. Majorities of both surveyed school parents and surveyed adults support school choice policies that would remove the financial barriers preventing families from accessing a nonpublic school learning environment. (Stay tuned for new Thinking Minnesota Poll results also confirming this sentiment!)

Building off these results, a packed room of Minnesota parents, grandparents, educators, school leaders, state leaders and community members came out on May 10 to hear national school choice expert Corey DeAngelis explain why expanding education freedom in Minnesota is a must.

“Education funding is meant for educating the child,” stated DeAngelis. “Not for propping up and protecting a particular institution, whether it’s run publicly or privately.” Currently, Minnesota does not have a policy that would allow a portion of a student’s education funding to follow him or her to the learning environment of choice.

DeAngelis continued by noting that school choice shouldn’t be a partisan issue. “Look at how voters respond to surveys on school choice.” Opposition by politicians and special interests (teachers’ unions) “has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with power,” according to DeAngelis.

The public school system’s history of stagnant and declining academic outcomes, rising school safety issues, and prioritization of content unaligned with educational excellence confirms new approaches to education “reform” are due.

Competition, through school choice programs, is one such approach, noted retired attorney and founder of Laurel Community School Alfrieda Baldwin during the panel discussion following Corey’s keynote. “The government school system, for all practical purposes, in my mind, is a monopoly system.”

Panelist Lee McGrath with the Institute for Justice and a board member at Opportunity for All Kids also noted the importance of competition. “Look at what is happening to the executives at Anheuser-Busch. They are changing things. They are reacting to their customers. Competition causes changes, causes improvement.”

Students “spend 17,000 hours in school” during their K-12 journey, added panelist Rebekah Hagstrom, founder and headmaster of Liberty Classical Academy. “So, to not be able to have the opportunity to choose a school for your children that you think is the best school for them, I think we are really doing families a disservice.”

You can watch the event in its entirety here.

Minnesota can do more, the time is now

Minnesota pioneered educational freedom over 30 years ago by establishing the nation’s very first charter school. Since then, however, Minnesota has been getting left behind, as a majority of states offer other innovative approaches to tackle education shortcomings.

While public schools work great for some students, many want — or often need — another option. Too often, though, financial barriers prevent families from accessing the learning environment that aligns with their values and meets their children’s needs. We can’t expect education to be the great equalizer if socioeconomic factors or geographic factors determine who can access better outcomes for their children. That is why removing these financial barriers through school choice programs like Education Savings Accounts is not only wanted but needed.

School choice myths

Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming research on the benefits of school choice, myths remain. Check out this great resource by the American Federation for Children that explains the realities of school choice. (Quick preview: School choice doesn’t “defund” public schools nor is it bad for teachers!)

Why do parents have little control over where their children go to school?

Unless you homeschool or send your child to a private school, you’re left to attend government schools often controlled by teachers’ unions. That needs to change. Watch Corey DeAngelis explain the problem (and solutions) here.

Local advocacy groups

In addition to hearing from Corey DeAngelis on May 10, attendees also learned more about local organizations advocating for education choice. Read more about their work below.

Center of the American Experiment is Minnesota’s think tank. For more than 30 years, it has been the most impactful and effective public policy organization in Minnesota, leading the way in creating and advocating policies that make Minnesota a freer, more prosperous and better-governed state. Read here to learn about all the reasons why American Experiment will continue fighting for expanding educational freedom in the state.

Opportunity for All Kids (OAK) is the statewide advocacy organization in Minnesota focused solely on building grassroots support and advocating for education choice for families and students. OAK’s mission is to ensure that children in Minnesota have access to an education that will help them thrive. Check out OAK’s helpful page on how school choice policies work here.

Minnesota Parents Alliance (MPA) connects parents across the state with one another by hosting a variety of educational events and online forums, as well as with individuals and organizations that can provide additional support. Their goal is to effectively and efficiently channel the momentum of the parent movement into positive and lasting changes for education in Minnesota. Learn more here.

Minnesota Family Council (MFC) is a nonpartisan, grassroots, Christian organization dedicated to strengthening the family by advancing foundational biblical principles in churches, the media, government, and the public square throughout the state of Minnesota. Check out MFC’s Guarding Your Child’s Heart & Mind resource here.

Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) Twin Cities Chapter is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties for all Americans, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding and humanity. Check out the organization’s literature guides and K-12 pro-human learning standards.

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom. It advocates for school choice, realizing that it gives the power back to the parents to help level the playing field and ensure that the government is not in control of what’s being taught in a classroom. Request a TPUSA school choice kit here.