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Parents Demand More School Choices as School Districts Seek Increased Funding

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Parents Demand More Educational Choices Amid Calls for Increased School Funding

Recently, I engaged my two young children in a thought experiment. I asked them how they would feel if the government dictated our choice of pediatrician or roofer based on our residential location. Both of them strongly disagreed with such a scenario, asserting that these were significant decisions that we should be able to make for our family. This led me to the heart of the matter: what if the government determined their school based on our ZIP code or neighborhood, even if that school was underperforming or unsafe? Unsurprisingly, they found this equally unacceptable.

The Debate on Education Choice in Texas

The concept of education choice is currently a hot topic in Texas. The debate encompasses a range of terms, including Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and school choice. Unfortunately, the complexity of this issue is often oversimplified in social media posts and politically motivated emails, such as those recently sent by the Fort Worth Independent School District, one of Texas' largest districts.

Political Activism in Education

On October 17, the Fort Worth school district disseminated an email intended to provide "insights". However, these insights were merely political talking points aimed at preserving the current public school system. As a parent of children attending schools in this district, I have generally been satisfied with our school and have no plans to move my children, regardless of the outcome of the Texas Legislature’s current special session. However, I am acutely aware that our positive experience is not the norm for many families in Fort Worth.

Advocating for Education Choice

Despite the Fort Worth district's claims of high accountability standards, the data tells a different story. District-wide, only 24% of students meet grade-level standards in math, 31% in reading, and a mere 19% in science. These figures are unacceptable and indicate a need for fundamental change.

The Funding Myth

The narrative that Texas public schools simply need more funding is misleading. Despite a 166% increase in funding per student, adjusted for inflation, between 1970 and 2020, student outcomes have continued to decline. The proficiency of students in the Fort Worth district has steadily dropped in both math and reading between 2017 and 2022, despite increased annual budgets. Clearly, the solution is not merely to continue increasing funding.

The Need for Education Choice

What our public schools need is not more taxpayer money, but a shake-up of the current system. This shake-up is known as education choice. Critics argue that ESAs will drain money from public schools, only benefit the wealthy, or harm public school education. However, data from 31 states with some form of school choice contradicts these claims.

The Impact of School Choice

Data from numerous states show that when parents are given a choice in their child's education, public schools improve and students across all socioeconomic levels achieve significant academic gains. For instance, Florida and Indiana saw remarkable improvements in outcomes among low-income students after implementing school choice. Similarly, a school choice program in Washington, D.C., resulted in improved high school graduation rates.

Voicing Support for Education Choice

The Fort Worth school district's email encouraged parents to voice their opinions on the future of our community’s education system. I am using my voice to say that our children deserve better. We have the opportunity to support legislation that will provide better learning opportunities for children in Texas. Your voice matters too.

Standing up for Our Children's Future

Now is the time to stand up and speak out for our children and for the future of Fort Worth and Texas. The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. This article does not necessarily represent the views of The Heritage Foundation. If you have an opinion about this article, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Please include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

Implications of Education Reforms on New Businesses

The ongoing debate on education reforms, particularly the issue of education choice, has significant implications for new businesses. These reforms could influence the quality of future workforce, public trust, and the overall socio-economic environment.

Workforce Quality and Business Success

The quality of education directly impacts the quality of the future workforce. If students are not adequately prepared for college or employment, new businesses may struggle to find skilled employees. This could hinder their growth and competitiveness.
The "Hot Take"
The education reforms being discussed could potentially revolutionize the education system, leading to a more competent and diverse workforce. This could benefit new businesses by providing a pool of well-educated, skilled workers. However, the controversy surrounding these reforms also presents challenges. It could lead to public unrest, policy uncertainties, and potential inequalities, which new businesses would need to navigate. In conclusion, while education reforms hold the promise of improving the quality of the future workforce, new businesses must stay informed and prepared to adapt to the potential changes and challenges these reforms may bring. They should also consider playing an active role in these discussions, advocating for reforms that would ensure a well-educated, diverse, and skilled future workforce.
Story First Published at: https://www.dailysignal.com/2023/11/03/public-school-districts-want-more-funding-but-most-texas-parents-like-me-want-more-choices/
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