In an interview last week with conservative radio host Rob Schilling from Charlottesville, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson shed some light on the need to allow more freedom in Virginia's education system. He said:

Parental choice in education is the principle [by which] we govern our educational system. ... Parents are empowered to decide how, and where, and by what values their children are educated.

Jackson contends that the home-schooling family should not have limited access to government resources simply because of how they choose to educate their children. In the interview, he agreed with host Rob Schilling that an amendment to the Virginia Constitution is needed to remedy this inequity:

It’s going to take a constitutional amendment. I promised people I would work for that. We’ve got to make sure that a home-schooling family is like any other family that decides to send their children to a private school, a Christian school, whatever it is. That that home-schooling family gets the resources that would otherwise be spent in a government school.

In response, his Democrat opponent, Senator Ralph Northam of Norfolk, called Jackson's proposal "Another example of E.W. Jackson trying to impose his dangerous agenda on to the Commonwealth" (see Washington Post).

It's no surprise that Senator Northam would see expanding parental choice such as home-schooling as "dangerous." He has repeatedly voted against legislation that would allow home-schooled high school students to participate in public school sports, a proposal supported by nearly 70 percent of Virginians; as well as against a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs for underprivileged students to escape failing public schools, which also garners overwhelming public support. (Despite his opposition, that bill finally passed in 2012.)

He also fails to recognize that home-schooling and private schools save the commonwealth's taxpayers millions of dollars every year. As one legislator in the General Assembly has said, if every home-schooled or private school student in Virginia showed up tomorrow at their assigned public schools, there would not be the classrooms, teachers or money to handle them.

In Virginia, parents have the liberty to choose how their children are taught. However, some options are limited because of the lack of financial resources. But should those who choose to educate their children at home miss out on some of these resources supplied by their own tax dollars? Parents have the authority to make a choice, but they should also be able to access all means of giving their child the best education available.