The Covid crisis has reminded us of many things in New Jersey. One lesson we’ve re-learned: state government will happily seize unconstitutional power and tighten its grasp unless challenged by their own political party. And modern education does not work because it has a misplaced priority on unionized adults instead of the students. I urge us to take this Covid moment and change how we do education.
I believe children should not be required to attend failing school districts simply because of their zip code or financial status. In other words, I believe in Education Equality. Fourteen states recently passed bills approving Education Savings Accounts. This allows money to follow the student to whichever school the family determines is in the best interest of the child. Education Savings Accounts put the student first! It’s a parent driven, child-centered plan of education. How innovative!
New Jersey spends on average over $20,000 per pupil – the fourth highest in the nation behind New York, Washington DC, and Connecticut. Yet, with so much money invested in schools (notice I did not say in students – there is difference), the legislature and Governor Murphy are afraid to give parents a choice. They are aware of the data. According to Real Clear Opinion Research, 77% of people surveyed support school choice (educational equality).
This week, I had the opportunity to join school choice advocates from across the political spectrum. Together, we discussed how we can influence our legislature to put the health and future of children above the special interest of elections and political donations. In addition, I led a strategy conversation with key denominational and church affiliation leaders. We are working to mobilize the faith community to engage with their legislators on these issues: namely, to support parents’ rights in determining how and where their children are educated.
I look forward to making Education Equality a major emphasis of the 2021 elections. Candidates for office face a brutal and burdensome vetting process by the powerful New Jersey Education Association. Tragically, they fiercely oppose equal opportunities for students. Let us support those candidates who will give parents the ability to decide what is best for their children.
Let’s make New Jersey better!
by Brittany Jones, policy manager and an attorney
When I was growing up my parents simply wanted to know that I would make it to adulthood with the skills, knowledge and faith to make a difference in my small part of the world. My parents recognized early on that my brother got bored in a normal school environment, because he wasn’t challenged. They recognized that I didn’t learn to read in Kindergarten because I was too distracted by what Sally Sue was doing on the other side of the room. They recognized that my sister was drawing house floorplans before she could even write her ABCs. They took this information and made a hard choice. They made the choice to take us out of traditional school and to teach us at home, in a day and age when few in our community were educating their kids at home. At the time it was a scary, somewhat untried approach.
Maybe you are in a similar situation as my parents. Maybe your kid just wants to play football. Maybe they love dissecting worms in your backyard. Maybe they just like to paint. These are things that parents are in the unique position to observe and to act on for their child. Formal education is an enormous component in a child reaching their potential. A child’s education will launch their belief system and understanding of the world. As a society, we need to give kids the wide open space to explore whatever may interest them. We should seek to equip parents with the tools and space to make the decisions about their child’s education.
There are some concrete ways the government can help parents choose the best educational fit for their child:
Education Savings Accounts allow parents to save for their children’s education and use the funds when and how they see fit for educational expenses, helping remove some of the financial burdens of education. Tebow Bills, which allow a homeschooled student to participate in extracurricular activities and classes at their local public school.
“Tebow Bills” give students the opportunity to participate in public school activities and academic courses they might not otherwise have access to. This puts the choice in the hands of parents rather than the state.
My parents took a risk in our education, giving us the tools we needed to do something we truly love and are called to do. They produced a math teacher, an attorney and an architect.
And, yes, don’t worry — I did learn to read!
Family Policy Alliance is working every day to ensure you have the ability to raise your child in the way you are led. Whether in a traditional public school, an alternative public school, a private school, or home school, we want to equip you to raise and educate your child in a manner that best gives your child a wide open future and fuel to explore his or her calling.
This is part 5 of 5 in our Let Parents Parent series on the importance of protecting parental rights for families.
Why doesn’t the government offer parents more options to find the best education for their children?
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, explains the many ways that children could be better served, if the needs of families were given priority.
He says the possibilities go far beyond high school graduation.