“I believe that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” This is the opening lyric to Whitney Houston’s song, the Greatest love of all. It’s always been understood that a child’s early education is paramount to their overall development. American taxpayers pay more for a child’s education than most other counties in the world, contributing roughly 6.4% of its overall GDP annually.
If there were ever a silver lining that came from the pandemic, it’s the fact that parents were able to peer through the lens of a zoom meeting and see what’s being taught to their children in public schools across the country.
A few months ago, Washington’s school superintendent released the most current district-level test scores for both reading and math. The dismal picture being painted are the consequences of Jay Inslee’s reckless school closures and lockouts; and show a drastic decline in basic math and English across every age group.
This latest assessment shows 70% of students failed to meet basic standards in math, and 52% failed to meet basic standards in English, as academic normalcy continues to elude many of Washington’s students. Children with disabilities and mental health challenges have been especially marginalized as they continue to struggle with the loss of much needed classroom time.
Many of them have given up on dreams of furthering their education, while record numbers have simply dropped out of school. This horrific trend will be felt for decades; and will continue to negatively alter the educational trajectory of a large percentage of Washington’s progenies.
In response, parents have begun pulling their children from public schools in numbers not quite seen before. They are opting for private and religious schools as a necessary alternative to what some have called, “a hopeless atmosphere” in the post lockdown public education era.
More than 41,000 families have departed public education in Washington state in favor of a more thriving educational environment, where students are the primary focus, not political or social ideologies. More importantly, an environment that is conducive to learning, and is not controlled by the teachers’ unions or partisan government officials.
It’s time for Washington parents to demand school choice and give students a wider range of options for basic education. Parents are rightfully frustrated with public schools in Washington, and simply want what’s best for their children. As public schools become less accountable to parents, and more accountable to sociopolitical groups, Washington’s children are no longer the education systems primary focus.
Charter and private schools have become popular alternatives for our children’s educational needs. As public schools continue to lower its standards, simply to funnel children through each grade level, the private schools are achieving academic excellence at every level; without lowering any of the academic standards.
It’s important everyone understand, nothing in education can ever be one size fits all. It’s going to require dedicated educators, in conjunction with parents to procure a wide range of options to reinspire this generation. School choice provides a vessel for children of all ages to achieve academic excellence and the education that best suits their needs.
This will allow parents of diverse economic backgrounds the opportunity to choose according to their core beliefs, not their zip code. When parents are given the option to choose, often, they opt for charter or religious schools, giving them the autonomy to educate their children as they see fit.
Many parents have committed to working second and third jobs to help offset the costs of a private school education; and view this as a necessary alternative. However, if school choice were an option, they would no longer need to do so. The state of Washington’s resistance to school choice has proven the assertion of many, that they care more about the dollars than they do the children. And that is simply not acceptable.
Thank you and God bless you,