School Choice: Is It Really the Answer Education Quality Problems?By Chris Brandt, UniversityHerald Reporter
Low graduation rates, lackluster math and reading performances, achievement gap between ethnic, social, and racial demographics- these are some of the woes the nation face in terms of education. Solutions to these problems, however, are not impossible if parents and students have a choice in which school they go to according to advocates of the school choice movement. But is it really the answer?
A special report on education showed that only 40 percent of students have grade-level math while only a third is proficient in reading. The statistics is not limited to public schools alone but also in what is considered as high-performing suburban schools where only 6 percent achieved average math proficiency that would make them a part in the "upper third of global performance."
Aside from this, the research also found out that there is a big achievement gap between white students and their Hispanic or black counterparts. The same is true between those with different economic backgrounds.
School choice is not only needed for those who are considered in the lower spectrum of the society but the middle class needs it as well. This was revealed in a book called "Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice" by Lance Izumi and Vicki Murray where it states that only 12 percent of high school students have college level proficiency in English.
How does school choice propose to change all these and provide the quality of education every parent and student is craving for? It does provide an alternative, but what are those alternatives?
The most popular argument people might hear or receive from school choice advocates is the opportunity to choose the school parents want their children to go to through vouchers given by the federal government. Alternatives, however, are not limited to this.
Alternatives include allowing parents to customize their child's learning experience, hybrid online learning, charter schools, and home schooling. There are also other innovative options that could help the child learn much better according to their needs.
As the late president Ronald Reagan said, "Choice represents a return to some of our most basic notions about education. In particular, programs emphasizing choice reflect the simple truth that the keys to educational success are schools and teachers that teach, and parents who insist that their children learn. They must work in concert, respecting each other's particular concerns and needs, not second-guessing each other."