Real ChoiceJan 13, 2009
For years The Family Foundation and pro-family partners have been fighting to allow families more educational freedom for families. The idea that parents should have the "privilege" of choosing what school their kids go to has been met with fierce opposition from the teachers unions and both Republican and Democrat lawmakers. The unions try to pit "rich" suburban schools against "poor" urban schools and claim that school choice is only supported by those in the suburbs. New polling just released might just begin to change some minds.
Polling released by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and the Black Alliance for Educational Options show that residents of Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk in primarily African-American neighborhoods overwhelmingly support educational choice. Nearly 79 percent of residents favor tax credits for parents to send their children to schools of their choice and over 75 percent favor tax credits for individuals and businesses that contribute to scholarship programs. Almost 60 percent of the residents of those communities are dissatisfied with their public schools.
These numbers reveal a growing chasim between elected officials who fear the Virginia Education Association and the citizens of Virginia. Growing disatisfaction with failing inner city schools is evident across the country, and this survey shows it is a serious problem in Virginia. Simply throwing more money at the problem, the VEA and General Assembly's answer to the problem, simply isn't working as schools continue to decline. Providing other educational opportunities for kids across Virginia will save Virginia money, decrease class sizes and overcrowding in struggling public schools (something the unions claim to support) and most importantly, improve the chance of success for the children of Virginia.
Education freedom is quickly becoming a bipartisan issue in many states. Let's see if Virginia's elected officials have the forsight to support school choice legislation in 2009, or if they'll continue to live in the past as more and more children fall behind.