Publisher's note: This post, by Ray Nothstine, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
One of the reasons many families choose school choice is because the traditional public school is simply not working out for them. Maybe a child is being bullied or just doesn't adjust well or not keeping up with assignments. There could be a host of reasons for transitioning to a different learning environment. Unfortunate learning obstacles can happen in private schools too, but having options makes a lot of sense for most people.
Certainly, the recently released Civitas polling
on school choice points to strong and broad support for school choice in North Carolina. One takeaway from the polling is that many politicians have failed to keep up with the pace of reforms and meet the educational demands of their constituents. From a 10,000 foot view, perhaps the polling points to greater parental involvement in the education of their child or children than past years or decades. A greater shift in that direction would be phenomenal for education overall.
Even though we all know there are some great public schools in our state lots of parents are looking for something different. And I don't think that merely pouring more money into schools is going to fundamentally change that in any way. Even if the opposing argument against choice continually hinges on the schools being underfunded that's not going to change the high demand for alternatives. Does that stop parents looking for other options if some optimal funding quota is finally met? After all, even a great school is not always an ideal fit for every student.
Many parents and students are simply looking for options beyond what many have dubbed a factory model of education
. Come to find out a "one size fits all" model doesn't fit a lot of kids.
A little over a year ago on this blog, I made an attempt at defining the deeper purpose of education
. It quotes Russell Kirk who noted that "True education is meant to develop the individual human being, the person, rather than to serve the state."
Undoubtedly more parents are asking deeper questions again about the purpose of education and that certainly is leading to a demand for more options. It certainly is a major reason homeschooling skyrocketed in popularity, even when many of us might have been making fun of that movement decades ago.
School choice and true education itself is a reminder that the state or government is limited in its ability to solve a lot of educational problems. Many families of faith seek a more holistic religious or faith-based education because learning is much more than proficiency or skills. It's about discovering the truth beyond what is offered in government curriculums.
Frederick Douglas said that "education means emancipation."
It's exciting to see that so many get that in this poll and hopefully we will see fundamental changes that will expand choice and an overall attitude of emancipation for many students trapped in failing schools.