Why Attack Education Freedom?
Everywhere you turn people want freedom…except those who stand to lose if you have it.
If you haven’t been razor-focussed on the state of education bills rolling through the states, you might not be aware that eleven states have enacted or expanded laws providing parents and students more freedom to personalize their own education, and three more are on the verge.
In Iowa, which was first out of the gate in 2023, over 12,000 parents have already signed up for their state’s education savings account.
Kudos to the Des Moines Register, which has done an incredible service to parents by providing details about this program, which no doubt helped drive critical information to parents who may not have been aware.
"I believe education is the great equalizer, which is why it was so important to remove the boundaries that have existed between public and private schools for too long, and to ensure that families can send their children to the school of their choice." — Governor Kim Reynolds
Sadly, there are forces at work who couldn’t disagree more with Reynolds. Some for ideological reasons, some for partisan reasons, and some for…well, idiotic reasons, like “my public school was great for me!”
Illinois leaders are on a dangerous course to cancel out a modest but important tax credit scholarship program for low-income kids in the Land of Lincoln (ahem… you’d think they’d understand freedom from just that nickname). While Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker surprised everyone with his support when he ran for office, he’s taking a backseat no doubt as the teacher unions who helped elect him have asked him to sit on the sideline. A pathetic statement from his office about the fate of the program tells it all:
“The Invest in Kids Act has to pass the General Assembly. If it doesn’t pass that would not be the Governor eliminating it, that would be the General Assembly eliminating it.”
Thousands of parents, mostly low income and minority families, are flooding lawmakers with their complaints. As a local NBC affiliate reports, students are succeeding thanks to the Invest in Kids program and parents are upset.
“Tracy Smith of Hyde Park told NBC 5 that her 15-year-old twins are blazing a path to success, and it all began at St. Sabina Academy.
‘Bringing them here is what I needed, what I wanted, and more than I ever anticipated for them.’”
Nebraska’s union will work to scare voters…
The education establishment is hoping to file a ballot initiative to overturn the state’s new education choice program.
And then there’s Arkansas…
The new law signed by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a multi-pronged approach to improving education. It not only created an education savings account that by 2025 will provide education choices to most families, takes steps to improve literacy, creates new career pathways, provides for ailing districts to be managed by charter school organizations, but raises education spending, among other things. In fact, nothing like the status quo.
So of course opponents are hoping a legal loophole will give them a reprieve and have begun to tie the implementation up in knots. Reads the state website:
A recent judge’s order issued a temporary delay regarding the implementation of the LEARNS Act. This order prevents ADE “from implementing or enforcing any aspect of the Arkansas LEARNS Act, Act 237 of 2023, until such time that it becomes law.” Attorney General Tim Griffin filed an immediate appeal of the order to the Arkansas Supreme Court. We will keep you posted with any further updates.
State Senator Bart Hester hit the nail on the head:
“As I have said since the beginning, when you can’t find a problem with the merits you complain about process.”
In two years the program will also allow ESAs to be spent on career training, which brings up a positive story about a program not thwarted by ideological insanity…
A cool new freedom pathway
For the last few years, the idea of career and technical education has been all in vogue. With modern day pathways and occupations that defy old-school training, the whole field has been ripe for a makeover. Traditionally, it’s the high schools, community colleagues, and various other governmental agencies that get paid to offer work-based training and support. Meanwhile business and industry is moving at the speed of light, and getting relevant, desirable, and outcomes-based training for new skills-based industries isn't always available through traditional means. That’s why Indiana’s new career and technical education scholarship account program (CSAs) is a very cool 21st century idea. It gives students freedom to make those decisions outside of having to rely solely on what the system delivers. My latest in Forbes has the full scoop!
When the nation was at the worst of the pandemic, parents, the public, and most educators even saw the underbelly of education and how decisions are really made. It not only elevated education as a national issue but was an eye-opening experience that led to more support for an increased array of transformational options for students and families. That’s why education opportunity and innovation is sweeping the nation, again.
On the eve of Flag Day, I learned of Pennsylvania’s upcoming first ever statewide Civics Bee! With fewer than 20% of our students proficient in civics (and far fewer in history), I’m super pumped for an expansion of this timeless concept.
Forever in peace may she wave…
Best — Jeanne
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