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By Julie Reeder
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School Choice - More than a political platform position

 

Last updated 8/27/2020 at 7:45am



What to some people is nothing more than part of a political platform, or a political narrative, to others is the opportunity for freedom and life changing opportunity. School Choice was painted for years with ignorance and fear that uneducated or “bad” parents would take their children to “witch schools” or some other inappropriate school setting. These fear-based oppositions were ignorant in my opinion.

I appreciated the ability to follow four different paths for my four children that were all unique with unique needs. We had some learning disabilities and different learning styles. While it’s not always the case, by far and large, parents are the ones who know their children the best and love them and have their best interests first and foremost. For the most part, we would do anything for our children.

When parents’ hands are tied and they are stuck with only one choice, and it’s a failing or dangerous school, or it’s not meeting the needs of their student, it's one of the most detrimental things for that family and the student’s future.

How much more advantageous for that family, the community and society if our tax dollars followed that student so that the parent could find the best school to fit the needs of their individual student? That is what school choice is all about. As a parent who has taken advantage of our local public schools, a private school, two charter schools and even home schooling for a time, I can testify that all children are not round pegs that fit into round holes. We overcame issues that the schools just weren’t set up to handle. No one knew our students better than their father and me.

Every child in every neighborhood should have the opportunity, not just families in “good” neighborhoods.

School choice is scary for those in education because it removes their absolute control over our children. They see themselves as the “experts,” and maybe they are, but I believe this is less about the children and more about job security. If it wasn’t, then the recent demands by the United Teachers Los Angeles, a union consisting of 35,000 members, wouldn’t have outlined a series of demands before reopening that included defunding the police and charter schools.

This was part of their statement:

“Police violence is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue … . We must shift the astronomical amount of money devoted to policing, to education and other essential needs such as housing and public health.”

I wonder if they knew that shootings by Los Angeles police officers reached a 30-year low in 2019, with fatal shootings declining for the fourth year in a row, according to a new report on police use of force.

I wonder how defunding the police will benefit students.

The paper ended with a section titled, “In Conclusion: Normal Wasn’t Working For Us Before. We Can’t Go Back.”

Then this week I saw a video of a parent in East Los Angeles showing that his student was learning BLM curriculum. It looked more like indoctrination rather than education. I doubt defunding the police and charter schools will make things better. Maybe defunding the Los Angeles School District and starting over would be more beneficial.

This has become a hot national topic as well.

Democrats are supported by teachers’ unions to the tune of more than $32 million, according to http://www.opensecrets.org, so they are against school choice. “Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94% of the funds they contributed to candidates … .”

Republicans don’t have the support of the teachers’ unions, so they are free to support school choice.

“A child’s ZIP code in America should never determine their future, and that’s what was happening. So we’re very, very strong on school choice,” President Trump said.

School choice” is the term for giving students and families options in K-12 education, usually referring to charter schools and/or vouchers for private schools. President Trump has publicly supported “the money following the student.”

Just as we were able to choose the best educational path for our children, I believe the best way to support inner city children or children at risk is to provide their parents with school choice. We can’t keep talking about hope and change without action.

School choice was on the ballot years ago in California. Dr. Stephen Guffanti, the brilliant doctor who backed the ballot measure told me about a group of at risk boys who were lured to school by the opportunity to do something they cared about, learning to fight. A martial arts teacher taught them for an hour and then they ran for quite a way to school (if I remember correctly). By the time they got to school, they were ready to concentrate. They all graduated and went on to college.

That's what they needed, and it worked for them. What other students need will be different. We need the competition, competence and innovation. Our children are too precious and too important.

All of our futures depend on it.

Julie Reeder can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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