Public schools serve the vast majority of students and are critical to the educational success of our nation. Educational choice doesn't diminish the role public schools play in preparing students for post-academic life. However, if a school, public or private, is not meeting a child's needs, then other options should be accessible. All students have the right to learn in an environment that will challenge them to be the best that they can be. These choices are typically available, but at a cost.
School choice programs help low-income students. Most of the people who are trapped in schools that don't work for them or their parents are the poor. There has to be a way that the poorest families in America have some choice in their children’s education. Working in a low-income school, I see the struggles that these families face day in and day out. If these families had to also worry about the education that their child was receiving, it would bring and added stress to their lives, which they can’t afford to take on. Each family at our school knows that their children are receiving the best education that can be provided to them. These families don’t have to worry about the education that their children are receiving, so it enables them to concentrate on making things better for their families at home.
Unlike more affluent families, poor families cannot choose to buy homes in communities that have good schools, and some studies have found that choice programs have positive effects on low-income families. Luckily in Baltimore County, some of the best teachers are in these low-income schools. Although in places like Baltimore City, there are many first year teachers and/or inexperienced teachers, which make educating these students more of a challenge. In urban areas, there needs to be choices offered to families that want a better life for their children.
Currently, there are twenty-two states, the District of Columbia, and Douglas County in Colorado that offer private school choice programs. Some of these states offer tax credits for private schools and others offer voucher programs for low-income or middle-income families to attend private schools. Whatever the program that is offered, these states are giving families a choice in one of the most important things in their children’s lives, their education. The education of children is our future as a country. Nationally, our educational system has fallen behind countries like China, South Korea, Finland, Singapore and Canada. This should serve as a wake-up call given the global dynamics of the 21st century marketplace. Are we doing enough to prepare American students for future success? Or, is a new model needed to restore gains in achievement and learning?
The Choice Scholarship Program implemented in Douglas County, Colorado is a program that allows parents additional options to make sure their children receive the education that fits their needs. This pilot program provides vouchers to any public school student who has spent at least one year in the Douglas County School District. If more than 500 students apply for vouchers, a lottery is held. Eligible students can receive a voucher worth the lesser of the private school tuition or 75 percent of the per-pupil public revenue, which is $4,575. Many families have benefited from this program and have nothing but positive thoughts about the implementation of the program and the education that their children are receiving because of it. Many states have charter