As we look to the next generation of citizens, leaders and innovators, it is important that we as a nation prepare them for future success — and the foundation of that success is providing a quality education for all students.

School choice has many variations, but it essentially empowers parents and students to decide which learning environment will provide the best education. “A rising tide lifts all boats” is definitely true within education. When we increase choice, under-performing schools will have no option but to make changes and improve. Whether a school is private or public, ALL schools should be excellent, and no child should be bound to a failing or low-performing school.

Moreover, when we talk about “school choice” and improving our failing schools, solutions should focus on the students, rather than the administrators or teachers. Any government money spent on education should follow the child not be allocated to a certain district — to ensure they have the resources for the best education possible.

Along with his favorable view of the U.S. Constitution, Frederick Douglass’ writings expressed his respect and appreciation for the constitutional principle of educational opportunity through school choice. In other words, every parent has the God-given right to send their child to the school of their choice, regardless of their family’s income or in which ZIP code they live.

Why do I consider “school choice” as a constitutional right? It is simply this: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is a familiar phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. It declares these three rights have been given to all humans by their Creator, and therefore are impossible to be taken away ─ and which government are created to protect.

There is nothing that gives a parent more “Happiness” than to know their child has an opportunity to attend an excellent school.

I value the story about Douglass’ first-hand experience on the issue of “school choice.” Try putting yourself in his shoes:

In 1848, the Rochester Board of Education tried to force Douglass to send his nine-year-old daughter, Rosetta, to a poor-performing Black school. However, he wanted to enroll her in an exemplary high-performing school. Exercising his constitutional right of school choice — wanting the best educational opportunity for his child — Douglass eventually enrolled Rosetta in one of the best private schools in the area, Seward Seminary. Sadly, the opposition Douglass faced to provide his daughter a quality education continued at Seward too.

Upon Rosetta’s admittance to Seward, she was suddenly and unexpectedly expelled because of the color of her skin. Seething in righteous indignation, Douglass wrote the following in a scathing letter to the principal:

“I am also glad to inform you that you have not succeeded as you had hoped to do, in depriving my child of the means of a decent education, or the privilege of going to an excellent school.”

He continued: “She had been excluded from Seward Seminary five hours before she was gladly welcomed into another quite as respectable, and equally Christian to the one from which she was excluded. She now sits in a school among children as pure, and as white as you or yours, and no one is offended. Now I should like to know how much better are you than me, and how much better your children than mine?”

Understanding that life is not a dress rehearsal — you only get one opportunity to get the education of your child correct — Douglass sought to place his daughter in a safe and quality educational environment. Every parent, whether rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated has the constitutional right to send their child to the school of their choice. For it is “school choice” that makes education the best escape route from poverty.

A former member of President Trump’s Coalition Advisory Board, KCarl Smith is the President and CEO of KCarl Consulting Group, empowering freedom advocates with the confidence, knowledge and skills to trump the race card. His column appears every Thursday in 1819 News. To contact KCarl or request him for a speaking engagement go to . The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to