June 09, 2007

School Choice Marches On

Some public policy battles (e.g., the fight for a transparency website or for tax breaks for stay-at-home moms) can be won in fairly short order. Other victories will be harder to come by, and will require Wilberforce-like patience and perseverance.

The battle for school choice is a prime example. And even though I'm a pessimist by nature, I am firmly convinced that educational freedom in Oklahoma is a matter of "when," not "if." Just as it was wrong to keep people trapped behind the Berlin Wall, it is wrong to keep children trapped in failing schools. (Are you aware, for example, that only four percent -- that's not a misprint -- of Oklahoma's black 8th graders are proficient in math?) As former assistant secretary of education Chester Finn once wrote, the defenders of the status quo “can’t stop school choice any more than the Communist authorities could forever block the movement of people who wanted out.”

And you might be surprised just how many people want out. Polling data tell us that the majority of Oklahomans would leave the public school system if they could afford to. Think about that for a moment. The government is running a school system which the majority of people would exit if they could.

That's why I believe school choice is inevitable. And indeed, as Heritage Foundation analyst Dan Lips points out tomorrow in The Oklahoman, school choice is steadily expanding throughout the United States. Lips is co-author of the OCPA study, The Oklahoma Scholarship Tax Credit: Giving Parents Choices, Saving Taxpayers Money.

Slowly, slowly, school choice is advancing.

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