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Surprise! Black Families Love Choice, Too

in Education, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Surprise! Black Families Love Choice, Too

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In case you were wondering, school choice is popular. Especially among those who need it most.

choiceAccording to a survey released by North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, 56 percent of local black voters favor public charter schools, while only 24 percent oppose them. At least 59 percent of those who participated also claimed that they support the expansion of the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Twenty-three percent do not want to see the program’s expansion.

Traditional schools, which are burdened with the heavy weight of union-backed demands, often tend to perform poorly, especially when compared to the majority of charter schools and other institutions that are not government-run.

In The Origins of the Public School, Austrian economist Robert P. Murphy explains that traditional schools became widely popular once “inefficient ‘firms’” sought to influence public school leadership in order to “hinder competitors.”

Murphy notes that this incident is “common to all expansions of state power.” Adding that the defense of standardization of curricula and centralization of “the disbursement of public funds” toward public schooling originally came from those who “would benefit financially from such policies,” including trade unions, he argues that protectionism—not education—is what drives teachers to unionize and burden school systems with their demands, sacrificing productivity for wages.

By becoming closer to the business of policymaking, teachers unions saw the removal of children from the labor market and the elimination of potential competition in the education industry as the only way to secure their position. By targeting poorer families who could not afford to put their children in private institutions, these groups succeeded greatly, demanding government to have more influence in the education of American children.

Murphy continues:

The Protestant schools were losing ‘market share’, and turned to government to pad their budgets and restrict the actions of their chief competitors, the Catholic schools. In other arenas, people can quickly see through such self-interested ‘altruism’. When a corporation clamors for an import restriction on foreign competition, most observers agree that it is acting to increase its own profits, not to protect the public from ‘dumping’. Why then do most people accept at face value the humanitarian justifications offered by the advocates of state education when such a bureaucracy confers immense wealth and power in the hands of an elite?

The idea of school choice is often attacked by groups claiming to speak on behalf of the oppressed and undereducated, and yet evidence shows that choice is what makes it possible for families in underprivileged situations to achieve greatness.

Whether you agree or not about the amplification of school choice through the charter or voucher systems, the fact minorities are benefiting from the addition of private elements to the schooling system is important. Unlike prohibitionists, families who struggle to provide their children with proper education see value in school choice because they live it.

If the education business hadn’t become a government business, choice would be the norm. Until freedom is restored in full, let’s celebrate those who have discovered—on their own—that freedom is always the best choice.

Millions Celebrate Education Choice

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Happy National School Choice Week! National School Choice Week

This week (January 25 to 31) is National School Choice Week, a non-partisan public awareness effort designed to “shine a positive spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children.”

I wasn’t aware of the scope of this project until just recently, but it is huge. And this year is its biggest, highest-profile celebration yet.

Millions of Americans in all 50 states will participate in more than 11,000 unique independently planned and independently funded events and activities celebrating school choice. These events will range from open houses and talent shows at schools to 5k runs and rallies on the steps of state capitols.

And there is growing political clout behind this diverse movement. This year the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to recognize January 25-31, 2015 as National School Choice Week. More than 100 U.S. governors, mayors and county leaders have issued proclamations recognizing National School Choice Week in their states and localities. I’m impressed!

National School Choice Week doesn’t focus on a single tactic or solution for increasing education choice and quality. Instead, it focuses on bringing public awareness to this issue and, in doing so, creating a mass movement for the broad goals of education choice and diversity.

As the group says: “Participants in National School Choice Week believe that parents should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children. Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling — while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country.”

One of the resources that National School Choice Week offers is a national map that provides facts about school choice in each state. Click on a state on the map and discover the types of school choice available — and not available — to families in that state. Great resource! Check it out.

The growth of such a mass movement for liberty in education is heartening. And support is strong and growing fast, as this Beck Research national survey of likely 2016 voters proves:

“When asked, ‘Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs,’ fully 69% support school choice, including 45% who strongly support it, while 27% oppose it. School choice support has strong support across partisan lines; 60% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 81% of Republicans back it.”

That’s astounding progress.

Of course, the ultimate goal for libertarians is what Advocates Founder and education reform pioneer Marshall Fritz called “separation of school and state.”

I’ll finish by quoting from a recent column by Ron Paul inspired by National School Choice Week. As usual, Paul gets straight to the heart of the matter:

“If Congress was serious about improving education it would shut down the Department of Education. … So as long as federal education programs exist, school children will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country. …

“It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy, and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children’s unique needs.

“Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

“These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also homeschooling.”

Let’s hope this week moves us further in that direction. Happy National School Choice Week!