If we don’t do what’s right for our kids today, what might tomorrow look like?
We are a community of of parents, educators, civic leaders, businesspeople, and ordinary Texans who want to see the next generation of Texas children educated in the way that they learn best, so that the future is bright – both for our state and local communities.
Every single child is unique, and that’s why their education should be tailored to their specific needs.
Most people agree on this, but diverge on the solution.
No one ever seems to ask: who should decide?
Others are not the ultimate arbiters of your child or grandchild’s future. You are.
Shouldn’t the education system let you make your own choices about how and what they learn?
You might not change anything about your child’s education, and that’s just fine! If you are blessed to be in a place where your child’s educational needs are being met, you don’t have to change at all.
But recognize: that’s not everybody. Not by a long shot.
Some families (actually, many) intentionally buy homes in the “best” school district available. Home-buying websites rate schools. School districts boast of their quality on highway billboards.
Make no mistake: parental choice already exists in Texas… if you have enough money, mobility, time. Though even if you do, it’s not easy.
Texas protects parents’ right to homeschool their children – that is, remove them from the public school system and teach them according to their own methods and values.
But some families can’t do that due to work, two-household families, and many other reasons.
Our realization of the solution begins with those unable to choose the best learning situation for their children – and ends with a recognition that it should be easier for everyone else, too.
For many who live in rural Texas, your child’s educational choices are down to an either-or: the local public school, or homeschool.
Because many rural Texans work hard to keep food on the table, homeschool might not be an option. What about the local public schools? In many cases, they fail to offer the types of enriched education – STEM, robotics, dual-credit programs – offered by larger school districts. Bussing in rural areas can rob hours of students’ precious time.
What is best for your child? It should be up to you as a parent. That should be your choice as a family living in Texas, but you don’t have it now.
If there is any group who has been left behind by our education system, it’s children with special needs. The state is spending more than ever, but parents often feel like leftovers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, special needs students’ services were suddenly disrupted in a major way. For that reason, TEA created the Supplemental Special Education Services grant program. Parents of special needs students can receive a $1,500 grant, and use it to meet their child’s needs via an easy-to-use online portal with approved providers.
While disability rights advocates correctly point out that the amount of the grant is too low, the concept – and the waiting list of families hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to help their child – shows a bright future for special needs families to take their children’s education by the horns, if only all of us wake up to their needs.
We hear you, parents of special needs children.
It is important to consider the impact research before making a major policy change. With empowering parents to make choices for their children, however, the body of research is substantial. The results couldn’t be more obvious: empowering parents to make decisions that are best for their children is not only a sound moral and ethical choice, it results in better educational outcomes, both in private and public settings.
And it’s not even close.
In fact, numerous states – such as Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin – have had school choice programs in place for many years. Here are the results.
How many issues find wide support from both Republicans and Democrats? In our divided time, empowering parents to make decisions for their children with their own tax dollars may be one of the few. Why? Perhaps because children are close to all of us – even those of us who are not parents have an interest in the future of our state and nation.
That’s why a recent scientific poll put support for educational choice at 71%, including 75% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats. In a recent gubernatorial race in Virginia, the issue of parents making choices for their own children’s education collected support from both Republicans and Democrats. And legislative measures supporting parental choice in education have been bipartisan in nature – including in Texas.
This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s an American one.