A few months back I wrote a series of blog posts about my objection to vouchers for public education...I was Wrong. Since that time I have had a chance to observe this debate more closely and re-evaluate my position. I have been fortunate to attend good public schools and so have my children. I let my own frame of reference color my views on a problem that reaches far beyond my own local community. There are many children who are born into failing schools because their parents cannot move to a better neighborhood. This is wrong and in America we can and should be doing better. No child should have their future determined by the unfortunate circumstance of residing in a bad zip code.
As a conservative, we fight constantly for free market solutions to economic problems. That is what this presidential election is about. Do you want freedom or more government control? The Romney/Ryan team will return this country to a path towards prosperity and a philosophy of market solutions. We can make the same bold choices in education and our children will be the beneficiaries of this new dynamic. I have come to the conclusion that I can be a public school advocate and still support a robust voucher program. In fact, it probably makes me a better public educator to want and demand more choice. Giving parents educational freedom will move the needle on school performance in poor, middle class and affluent communities.
If my children were being forced into a failing school I would want the option to seek a better solution for their education. Public school will never go away but we can make it BETTER by forcing schools to compete and improve to survive. Competition is an inherently American value and it is time that we extend it into public education. Technology has finally progressed to the point that parents have a wide range of traditional, charter and virtual options. The money should follow the child so that parents can secure the best path that meets the individual needs of the student.
School systems will continue to say that allowing this will be a catastrophe but our own history shows us that products, companies and organizations faced with competition meet the challenge or wither away. Schools must be willing to do the same in order to produce the best possible result. This will change the educational paradigm but we can no longer pander to teachers, systems and unions who place their own interests ahead of the future of our children.