School Choice Week 2014: Creating “a Climate of Possibility”
January 30, 2014 | By Jonathan Butcher email
Last month, the education community fretted amidst news that students from 18 countries had outscored their U.S. peers in science, math, and reading. As school administrators and lawmakers panicked and bought books about schools in Finland and Korea, USA Today reported that Columbia University researchers have the answer: More money.
“Spending on education has not kept pace with the rise in child poverty,” wrote USA Today contributorOliver Thomas. Thomas cites a Columbia University study that argues we just need $4,200 more. Every year. For 50 million students.
How another $4,200 would make a difference is a mystery. On average, states have doubled the amount spent per student since the 1970s, after adjusting for inflation while student achievement has gone unchanged and our students have fallen behind their peers in other countries.
This week, millions of children and their families are celebrating School Choice Week 2014 because they’ve traded an entitlement to public schools for better opportunities to succeed elsewhere. Some 2 million children choose to attend public charter schools and another 300,000 use an education savings account, school voucher, or scholarship to attend private schools across the country.
Nearly all of these school choice options come at a lower cost than traditional public school—which flies in the face of the More money lobby. Two lawmakers in Washington recognized School Choice Week by making better options for students a priority for the federal government. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would give some 11 million students access to better schools.
For 25 years the Goldwater Institute has helped families find quality educational options for their children. The Institute’s work continues through helping parents find excellent choices in education using education savings accounts—and defending these families from a teachers’ union that would take the choices away. The Institute is at work in states like Oklahoma to bring education savings accounts to more students.
Instead of declaring children are entitled to something that we know is not working, we should create what noted speaker and New York Times bestselling author Sir Ken Robinson calls “a climate of possibility” in education. He told an audience last April:
“[L]eadership in education…should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control. Creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn’t have expected.”
School Choice Week is an opportunity to control the climate in education and give all children the chance to succeed.