Pandemic Highlights Need for School Choice
Deuteronomy 4:9 reminds parents of their duty to care for their children: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Parents have a divinely appointed role in their children’s lives, they are obliged to better their future and to train them up in the belief of God. In order to achieve that purpose, many parents seek to provide a higher quality of education than their children would otherwise receive in the public school system.
An article in Psychotherapy Networker highlights the value of school choice by telling the story of Xavier, a troubled teenager who was struggling with substance abuse and online gaming addiction. Xavier’s parents were furious, not just with him, but with the school system that failed to notify them he had not been attending classes until he had accumulated over 40 absences. After numerous failed interventions, his parents sent him to a public charter school where he was finally able to thrive. 
More and more parents are choosing alternative educational options as they are realizing the ill-effects of a one-size-fits-all education system. This movement, geared toward making school-choice a widely available option, has gained traction as parents have been forced to take on the role of home-schooling their children in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, there has been a 14% increase in support for school choice since the start of the pandemic. John Schilling, the President of the American Federation of Children attributes this to the incompetent responses of school districts to the COVID-19 crisis. 
Even before school doors were slammed shut in the wake of the pandemic, many poorer Americans saw school choice programs—which open up funds that parents can take to many institutions outside of their school district—as a way up and out of broken public school systems.  One common type of program offers a tax credit to families who donate to non-profits that offer private school scholarships, thus, making it more affordable for their children to attend institutions that better fit their needs.  The pandemic has also led many parents to opt out of the traditional system altogether with an increased interest in homeschooling spreading throughout the nation.  In the past, there have even been bills put forward to fund home-based education on the state level. 
Despite the apparent benefits, parents face the opposition of political leaders who maintain that to fund school choice through tax credits and similar efforts “distracts from what we ought to be focusing on, which is educating every child through our public school system.” 
Some of the principle objections to this have centered on the fact that these funds could be used at private religious schools and viewpoints to which lawmakers have become increasingly hostile. In a country that has enshrined the free exercise of religion in its Constitution, we cannot allow this to prevent us from continuing to advocate for the ability of parents to educate their children as they see fit.
As Christians, we should rejoice over the fact that, not only is public opinion shifting toward policies that will allow us to provide for our children’s academic needs, this trend will better enable us to seek out education that conforms to Godly standards.
Despite the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least this small spot has been a silver lining. This should not surprise as Romans 8:28 teaches that “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The pandemic has taken a heavy toll but it may be turning the tide toward a brighter future for our children’s education.
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 Ron Taffel, “The Decline And Fall Of Parental Authority and What Therapists Can Do About It,” Psychotherapy Networker (January/February 2012), https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/article/287/the-decline-and-fall-of-parental-authority
 Bethany Blankley, “Poll: Support for school choice increases by 10 percentage points in four months,” The Center Square (September 29, 2020), https://www.thecentersquare.com/national/poll-support-for-school-choice-increases-by-10-percentage-points-in-four-months/article_ad49ac5c-01c6-11eb-89c8-7f6ba43daa0d.html
 Vanessa McCray, “Poll finds ‘strong’ charter school support among Atlanta’s black voters,” AJC (November 22, 2019), https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/poll-finds-strong-charter-school-support-among-atlanta-black-voters/SXGvQ7O77SD0epQ8g52UVP/
 “Fast Facts on School Choice,” EdChoice (May 28, 2019), https://www.edchoice.org/engage/fast-facts/#taxcredit-scholarship-fast-facts
 “Wolf says he will veto bill to expand tax credits for private, religious school scholarships,” Pennsylvania Capital-Starr (June 12, 2019), https://www.penncapital-star.com/education/wolf-says-he-will-veto-bill-to-expand-tax-credits-for-private-religious-school-scholarships/
 Safia Samee Ali, “Parents are opting to home school their children because of COVID-19, but experts say it might not be for everyone,” NBC (July 5, 2020), https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/parents-are-opting-home-school-their-children-due-covid-19-n1232739
 “Education Income Tax Credits For Nonpublic School,” Colorado General Assembly (2018), https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb18-083