Putting Children’s Needs First in Schools

Published August 1, 2015

As any parent knows, every child learns in a way that’s tailored to his or her personality. That’s a fundamental reason all parents should have the right to choose the education of their child. Unfortunately, the current public school system is based on your street address instead of how your child learns.

When my children were growing up, the oldest attended a public school and had a difficult teacher in third grade. It got so bad she started researching local private schools herself. We were fortunate enough to be able to put her into a private school along with my youngest child next year. They both thrived there.

My youngest daughter is a ferocious reader. We had her tested and found she was reading at a 6th grade level in kindergarten. We tried working with the local public school and private school, but neither could or would accommodate her specific needs. We homeschooled her so we could provide her with appropriate content for each subject.

I’ve worked with other parents in the same situation. One family’s son was doing college-level math in 8th grade. The local school would not accommodate him. The family found a college professor who volunteered to tutor their son until they found a better school for him. After a struggle of nearly two years, they were able to get him into a math and science academy. It shouldn’t take that long to get your child in the right school.

In Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of interviewing a voucher recipient, Monique, about her experience. She said she took three buses to get to school every morning. She didn’t mind the ride because she understood she was escaping her neighborhood. She said if she had not gotten a voucher she would have been pregnant or in jail, whereas when I interviewed her she was about to head to college in the fall.

Discussions of today’s education problems among the current establishment tend to dwell on longer school days, getting rid of testing, and spending even more taxpayer money on the very public schools that are failing to teach so many children. The education establishment and teachers unions seem to forget about the children and their needs.

The solution is to put children’s needs first by dedicating funding to students, not ZIP codes. Nevada just passed the first statewide universal education savings account plan, allowing every child in the state the chance to take the education path on which they are most likely thrive and excel. Under this plan, every child can have $5,000 put into an account for their specific education needs each year. Parents can keep them in the local traditional public school if they judge it the best fit or can choose a private school, a charter school, an online school, or a mix of those options. Parents in Nevada will finally be empowered to choose what is best for their child regardless of their current economic situation.

Education choice is the only reform that gives every child access to a quality education. Every state should follow Nevada’s lead and tell parents, “It’s your child, so it’s your choice.”

[Originally published at the Elko Daily Free Press]