School choice strengthens families against government interference

There is a sea change happening in education, as the expanding education freedom landscape is allowing more families to use their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to access the learning environment of choice.

But there is concern that these changes will result in increased government regulation because, as the saying goes, “he who controls the purse strings, makes the rules.”

While we should always be vigilant against government overreach, such concern, albeit understandable, is misplaced, according to recent commentary by Corey DeAngelis and Jason Bedrick.

States with more school choice generally have more freedom to homeschool. In fact, last year, Ohio lawmakers passed both universal school choice and a reduction in homeschool regulation.

Education choice policies shift the locus of control over education from politicians and bureaucrats to families. When a government-run school fails to meet a child’s individual learning needs or is pushing values that run contrary to her family’s values, choice policies give that family an immediate escape hatch. 

Empowering families with education choice also reduces the likelihood of harmful government regulation. As more families benefit from private and home education, the coalition willing to fight for the autonomy of private education will also grow. 

Additionally, “the school choice coalition has been careful to support legislation that includes language preserving the autonomy of private education providers,” continue DeAngelis and Bedrick.

For example, Arizona’s current education savings account (ESAs) law has a safeguard that expressly prohibits private schools from having to “alter [their] creed, practices, admissions policy or curriculum” in order to accept students who pay for tuition through the school choice program. Arizona law also distinguishes homeschool students from home-educated students who participate in the ESA program, resulting in two separate legal categories. This legal distinction is important.

Additionally, “Arizona enacted ESAs more than a decade ago and there have been no encroachments on the freedoms of private schools or homeschoolers,” point out DeAngelis and Bedrick.

At the end of the day, if concern still remains, participation in a school choice program is always voluntary. And while not a panacea to the challenges within education, school choice is “the most viable option we have today,” conclude DeAngelis and Bedrick. Not only does an increasingly large body of empirical evidence support this, but so do the majority of Americans, particularly those who have experienced the life-changing effects of education freedom.

Check out my post here for more on drafting strong school choice policy that also protects home education.