School Choice: Options and Controversy

School Choice: What Big Brother Doesn't Want You to Know

(NewsBreakDaily.com) – For most parents, the future of their children is high up, if not at the top of their list of priorities. For many who hold their first child for the first time, one realization hits them like a ton of bricks: success for tomorrow starts today, and education is the cornerstone upon which that’s built. But how much say do parents really have and does the government have a right to tell you where and how to educate your child?

The Options

Back when phones were plugged into the wall and television shows arrived on airwaves and not fiber optic cable, the vast majority of Americans sent their kids to their neighborhood school without a second thought. Today, in addition to the traditional public route, parents have other viable education options, including:

  • Private, both secular and religious
  • Online-based
  • Homeschooling

Like just about anything in life, each option has both positives and negatives to consider.

Public Schools

Public schools are run by local or regional governments funded by the people living in the district, typically through property taxes. Even tenants pay their share because landlords factor the expense into monthly rents.

Pros: The main draw to public schooling is that it’s considered “free” because of how it’s funded. Some places add surcharges for extracurricular activities like sports. Additionally, the buildings are generally close by. Transportation is provided by the ubiquitous yellow buses that seem to stop every 50 feet when one is behind them and in a hurry.

Cons: Many of the systems across the country face funding issues on a regular basis. Less money means they can lag behind in attracting the most qualified teachers and the ability to invest in the hardware kids need to compete in the modern world. Further, many schools focus on state-mandated proficiency tests, meaning that much of the instruction can be geared towards teaching children to parrot back the answers to common testing questions instead of critical thinking skills.

Private Schools

Pros: Because these schools tend to have smaller student bodies compared to their public counterparts, parents generally have greater input on how the school is run. This also means a smaller class size, which leads to more individual attention. Many private schools are faith-based, so parents can choose an environment that aligns with their closely-held beliefs.

Cons: There’s a cost over and above public schools in the form of tuition, and in some cases, required uniforms. These costs can make it a prohibitive option for some parents. Also, especially with faith-based education, there’s a lack of exposure to opposing points of view, which can lead to one-sided or biased teaching.

Online Schools

Pros: These tend to be public schools not subjected to geographic boundaries, which means they’re held to state standards with appropriately-licensed teachers and testing requirements. The students can learn from anywhere: home, their grandparents’ house, or even on family trips.

Cons: Children must be self-motivated or be closely monitored by parents because of distractions not found in brick-and-mortar schools like televisions, mobile devices and beds. Socialization is often limited because other attendees are not close by for get-togethers such as school dances and field trips.

Home Schooling

Pros: With homeschooling, parents get to decide the class times and curriculums, within reason. This allows more control in tailoring subject matter towards religious beliefs. It also creates more flexibility when it comes to work schedules.

Cons: Like the online option, there’s little opportunity for making and interacting with friends due to a lack of classroom setting. Also, while becoming much less of an issue, is the lack of transcripts for the college application process.

Every option for education has both good points and bad. Traditional systems allow for a more hands-free solution for busy parents. The training-up of the next generation, however, is about more than A-B-C and 1-2-3. Public schools tend to build in Progressive Liberal doctrines which can leave Conservative families fighting the indoctrination of their youngsters into morally questionable dogma. Also, while violence can erupt anywhere, the recent uptick in school shooting incidents shouldn’t be simply discounted out of hand. Parents are, after all, responsible for both the education and safety of their children.

The Role of the Government

Parental control is the impetus behind programs like school vouchers. They allow parents to use money earmarked for public education and use it to pay for private school options. Those opposed to the program say vouchers take money from the schools that need it the most, often those in low-income neighborhoods. Those in favor highlight the fact that parents are being asked to pay for their children’s education twice if they pay taxes and then pay for tuition.

This is an issue that will continue to come up, especially in an election year. How it plays out remains to be seen.

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