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Op-Ed: 'School Choice' Is Not the Answer - Here Is How to Escape Gov't-Controlled Education

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Nearly every Republican candidate on the ballot in the recent midterm election had “school choice” as a primary platform plank.

The idea of school choice has become increasingly popular in recent years and has been viewed by the GOP as the silver bullet to what ails American education. But taking government funds in any form can potentially harm private, home and Christian schools.

The House Ways and Means Committee, under new leadership in January, could offer a much better solution to concerned parents.

School choice options such as charter schools, vouchers, Title 1 portability and education savings accounts are being proposed across the country as a means to move away from government-controlled education. However, in all these models, the government remains in control, which undermines true choice.

In a 1981 court case affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal government prevailed over Hillsdale College, asserting that when an educational institution accepts students who receive government funds, it is subject to government regulation.

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Recently, the federal government began requiring all schools receiving free and reduced lunch money to allow boys to use the girls’ bathroom and locker room if they identify as a girl, and vice versa. This is an example of the coercive power of government money.

The Canadian province of Alberta is a prime example of how “school choice” can be a tool for the government to control curricula and even shut down Christian and home schools at a whim.

The law that governs education in the province states, “All courses or programs of study and instructional materials used in a school must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta [and] promote understanding and respect for others.” While at face value that may seem harmless, parents have been concerned about violating this law while teaching from their faith perspective topics like marriage and homosexuality.

This concern was confirmed by Donna McColl, a spokeswoman for the province’s education minister, who said, “Whatever the nature of schooling — homeschool, private school, Catholic school — we do not tolerate disrespect for differences. You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life; you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction.”

Moreover, the term “school choice” is inadequate to describe the proper emphasis on parental authority needed in American education. Parents are a child’s first teachers, and they should have absolute say in what and how their children learn. Parental authority over their children’s education must be restored.

U.S. Parents Involved in Education suggests redefining education choice from “school choice” to “parental choice.” Parental choice includes curriculum choices in which classical, technology-free and other non-Common Core curricula are available.

The current definition of school choice means parents are simply empowered to choose which government-regulated school their child will attend. The reality is that this is no choice at all.

Regulations can require schools to link into the federal government’s workforce development database, impose harmful standards like Common Core and Marxist pedagogies like critical race theory, and require inappropriate sex education on topics like sexual orientation and gender identity.

USPIE’s primary mission is to close the U.S. Department of Education, eliminate all federal education mandates and restore local, community and parental control of education. Therefore, USPIE is opposed to school choice options such as Title 1 portability, vouchers, education savings accounts and all federally regulated choice options.

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Parents must find ways to take advantage of independent, private and home school alternatives to government schools without bowing down to the school choice options based on “money follows the child” legislation.

To empower parents with a better solution to really escape government control, I propose the parental choice option of increasing the federal child tax credit for parents who do not choose to enroll their children in government schools, as well as similar tax credits on the state level.

Even if not initially, all other parental choice options implemented with government funding have the potential to become regulated and could harm private, home and Christian schools.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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