True Educational Freedom Doesn’t Come About With Strikes

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Everyone knows attendance at school is mandatory, at least for students. The spate of strikes could cause parents to look more favorably on school choice as a result of schools being closed and teacher attendance becoming unreliable.  That is to say nothing of school administrators who colluded with teacher union officials to bring these strikes off by closing schools ahead of a potential strike.  Rachel Tripp explores the effect these strikes could have on school choice in the Daily Caller.

In Oklahoma, over 500,000 students are out of school while teachers from over 172 school districts march on the state capitol to demand higher salaries and increased funding for public schools statewide. The Oklahoma Education Association, which has over 40,000 members, is seeking more than $800 million in additional funding. The strike began as planned on April 2, and forty-eight districts plan to strike indefinitely until a deal can be reached.

This strike is just the latest in a string of similar instances that have sprung up in the last month.

While these efforts have raised awareness around the way we value and compensate our public school teachers, it also brings to light several flaws that are part of a much larger, broken system, in which tax-funded teachers’ unions hold a complete and self-serving power that fails to consider the needs of the students and parents affected by these actions. Across the nation, thousands of parents are searching for ways to be in control of their child’s education.

Getting a comprehensive education is the first step towards success for any child. However in many areas the only available options are public schools that are unsafe, poorly funded, or staffed by tenured, ineffective teachers whose union backing makes them nearly impossible to fire, and therefore unaccountable for their unsuccessful teaching methods. These conditions leave good-intentioned educators in the challenging position of trying to succeed in environments that are not equipped to provide students with the resources necessary to excel. Although there are also many excellent public schools with effective teachers and plentiful resources, very few are equipped to effectively assist students requiring additional help or customized lessons related to learning disabilities. While many private schools offer an attractive alternative, parents often cannot afford the hefty tuition fees, and even more frequently private schools are located away from bus or train routes and further from neighborhoods. These factors create a picture where no one is set up to succeed: underpaid and union-backed teachers are not incentivized to improve, students are not receiving the resources or support they need to succeed, and parents are left with no alternatives.

This complex problem has a relatively straightforward solution: implementing school choice policies. The implementation of these policies, including access to charter schools, tax credit scholarships, school voucher programs, and education savings accounts, will allow for every student, regardless of socioeconomic status or neighborhood, to pursue the education that best meets their needs. School voucher programs, which allow parents to use public funds to pay for some or all of their child’s private education, are an incredible opportunity to redirect parents’ tax dollars towards their child’s private school tuition. Charter schools, which operate independently while receiving public funding, are another option that parents can pursue when searching for the atmosphere and educational approach that best suits their child’s learning style.

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