Today more than half the United States (about 30 States) offers some kind of extended educational choice to families:
- Individual Tax Credit/Deduction
- Tax Credit/Deduction, Voucher
- Open Enrollment
- Charter Schools
- Education Savings Account
Whatever your view, we seem to be living through the end of an era.
Parents will no longer be a captive audience for schools.
This has nothing to do with how congressional debates pan out.
It is in our American spirit to always fight for increased choice.
It used to be that we all lived close to each other.
There weren't too many choices to be made.
And then we got up and left. We got into caravans, and we went our way.
In the mid 19th century, thousands of families living in the east of America packed their live's belongings into wagons and headed west.
The days began at 4 o'clock when sleepy pioneers emerged from tents to start their fires. Oxen pulled the wagons; they were steady but slow, with a speed of 2 mph. Only the youngest children, or the sick, rode. The rest walked, to not add weight to the wagon.
There would be a short stop around noon, then walking continued. The pace was slower, and tired children often walked in silence. Towards the end of the afternoon, a scout went ahead to find a campsite.
The children had lots of chores, including sewing, milking the cows
fetching water, and collecting buffalo chips (dried dung) for the fire.
But there was also time to play tag with friends, or with hoops, doll,
and skipping ropes.
At about 8 o'clock, the pioneers settled down for the night, to sleep and dream of their future.
This is how we walked and walked... and spread out across the nation.
This is how we decided to live on our terms.
As much as Walmart and Starbucks continue to try to limit our choices; we always find a way to fight back.
We choose the local coffee shop, the local grocery, the local independent bookstore.
The same goes for our schools.
Today the parent can choose between the local traditional public school, the public charter school around the corner, or even the private school supported by a variety of financial benefits.
If I were you, I would not bet against increased 'choice' going away any time soon.
Just like the pioneers put their kids at risk for a better future, today's parents are willing to make sacrifices.
They will not accept not having a choice.
There's no going back.