Economic Growth and Educational Choice Can Yield Prosperity
The link between America's economic strength and the quality of education we provide to our country's children is too often ignored in the national debate over public policy issues.
As America's business leaders, educators, mayors, governors and local chamber of commerce executives know well, we cannot simply create new jobs, attract new businesses, inspire entrepreneurs, or revitalize communities without focusing on improving access to quality K-12 education options for families.
Our country can only reach its fullest potential, economically, if every child in our nation has the opportunity to achieve his or her fullest potential academically.
We can achieve this through school choice, giving parents the power and the freedom to choose the best K-12 education options for their children.
National School Choice Week started on Sunday, and runs until January 28. The Week, which will be the world's largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education, will feature 21,392 events across the country.
These events raise awareness about all of the education options that parents have, or want to be able to have, for their children's education: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Nearly 1,500 local chambers of commerce are holding events to celebrate National School Choice Week and for good reason: they know that school choice helps improve student achievement in key subject areas like reading and math and increase high school graduation rates.
Higher graduation rates have been correlated with significantly higher student earnings over their lifetimes, a reduction in the percentage of young people who are unemployed or underemployed, and a reduction in the crime rate, too.
When students are paired with schools that their parents believe will best meet their individual needs, challenges, and inspirations, students feel motivated to achieve and succeed. They see a clear path to achieving their goals and dreams, and feel a strong desire to accomplish big things.
The benefits of improved graduation rates are best felt in cities and towns across the country. When more students graduate from high school, the pool of available talent for good jobs in those areas increases, and businesses -- along with young people -- benefit. This may be one reason why an unprecedented 600 mayors and county leaders across the country have issued official proclamations recognizing School Choice Week in their localities.
Local and state chamber of commerce leaders can use National School Choice Week as an opportunity to celebrate the education options available to families in their area, while also raising awareness of the importance of expanding school choice. Part of this work requires dispelling some myths.
One of the biggest misconceptions about school choice is that it somehow means abandoning public education. Nothing could be further from the truth. True school choice embraces and celebrates the essential value and importance of public education, and also recognizes that in America today, public schooling takes multiple forms. In addition to neighborhood public schools run by districts, there are public charter schools, magnet schools, and online academies that are also public and charge no tuition to students.
The concept of school choice also recognizes the reality that every child is unique, and that some children may learn better in a nontraditional setting. Just as choice, variety, diversity, and opportunity are hallmarks of all other aspects of American society, they should also be reflected in the education we offered to young people.
Thankfully, this view is not just wishful thinking, but represents reality in many communities.
More American parents than ever before are actively choosing schools and education environments for their children. School choice is growing in popularity and continues to evolve with new education delivery vehicles and technology.
But millions of additional parents and children want and deserve greater access to a diversity of K-12 educational opportunities. Leaders at the federal and state levels have committed to expanding school choice in the years to come, and business leaders should play an active role in these discussions.
By advancing school choice and all of its forms, and by ensuring that business leaders and job creators are involved in the important debates over education reform, we can achieve the broad based economic prosperity that Americas families truly deserve.
National School Choice Week 2017 (January 22-28) will feature an unprecedented 21,000+ events across all 50 states, the largest celebration of opportunity in education in world history! Join the festivities by participating in our #SchoolChoice Tweet Up on Monday, January 23 from 2:30 - 3:30 PM Eastern. And..don't forget to send photos, videos, and snaps from your NSCW celebration to: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew R. Campanella is President of National School Choice Week