2020 was a culture-altering year and will forever be known as the year the world shut down. But 2020 will also be known as the year the parents woke up.
As schools shut down and went to e-learning, parents saw what their kids were learning for the first time, and they were not happy.
Alabama was not immune. Like the rest of the nation, we, too, saw leftist values being taught to their kids.
Further, as more families got to stay home with their children during the pandemic, they decided they rather liked their new lifestyle and wanted to continue it. Enter the rise of homeschooling.
In the years since 2020, Americans are rethinking how we run our education system. More parents are discontent with their children going to public schools. We’re seeing studies proving that Pre-K is actually harmful for child development. Other studies show that boys in particular suffer from having to sit all day. Independent playtime is decreasing in schools. None of this is helpful for our children.
But wait! If I take my kids out of the public school system, why should I continue to pay taxes towards an education system that is failing and one in which my kids aren’t participating?
Good question. Enter the school choice bills sweeping the nation.
The basic idea is that instead of tax dollars going to schools, money slated for education goes to the child, thus allowing parents to decide what kind of school to enroll students in. This includes homeschooling. Pretty great, right?
I agree it’s a great idea and needs to be enacted with all haste. Indeed, Alabama has legislative language from last year’s session called the PRICE Act just waiting to be resurrected. However, there are some issues with this idea and some liberties that need protecting.
Those who choose to homeschool often do so in order to take their children out of the government’s control. They don’t wish to have the government telling them how to educate their children, even on things such as standardized testing requirements. For families like these, school choice bills create great concern, for they would open the door for the government to only give money to kids who participate in homeschool programs that meet government requirements. Such a move would disincentivize homeschool programs from putting out curriculum that doesn’t meet such funding requirements. Hence, homeschoolers would get less variety, creating a particular problem for families who want to try different education models.
Another issue is that such legislation likely makes all education systems accountable to the government. If a homeschooled family takes the money, they then must report to the government how it is spent and what they are doing, removing a lot of the perks of homeschooling.
If legislation such as the PRICE Act passes, good! It’s better than the system we have. But we really need a homeschool lobby group that helps ensure homeschool families are protected from government oversight.
Perhaps homeschooling should be excluded from this program altogether. Perhaps we should consider a separate bill to help homeschool families with disabled children so we aren’t binding the hands of all homeschool families. Or perhaps we should simply consider a tax credit for homeschool families instead.
These are just a few considerations that need to be considered before we pass legislation similar to the PRICE Act. No matter the outcome, I am proud to see parents taking charge of their children’s education rather than handing them over to the government just because “teachers know best.” It’s high time we foster the idea that parents, not teachers, know best how to educate their children. School choice, done well, gives parents the freedom to do just that.
Laura Clark is a wife, mother, and community activist. She currently serves as the interim president of Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, a conservative nonprofit law firm that fights for limited government, free markets, and strong families in the courts.
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 [email protected].
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