Academic Freedom

National School Choice Week—Empower Parents, Improve Student Learning

Last month, the results of an international exam revealed that America’s world ranking hasn’t changed much in three years. The scores were “a picture of stagnation,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan remarked.

65 countries and economies participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a math, science, and reading exam that is administered every three years to 15-year-old students. In the rankings for the exam, which compare the various nations that participated, the United States scraped into the top 20 in only one subject area, reading—where it was ranked 17th.

While this is alarming news, it isn’t exactly surprising. Since 1970, per-pupil education expenditures—adjusted for inflation—have more than doubled, yet test scores remain about the same. This strategy of throwing money at the problem is not working. If, as a nation, we hope to remain competitive internationally, we must embrace common-sense reforms to change the status quo.

From Jan. 26–Feb. 1, organizations, schools, individuals, and elected officials will celebrate School Choice Week. This is an opportunity for our nation to examine and embrace policies that drive student learning. Some of the benefits of School Choice include:

1)    Empowered Parents—Parents who wish to improve their child’s education should not be relegated to the sidelines. School choice empowers parents to determine the best educational environment for their child’s development and learning.

2)    Accountability—School choice allows parents to hold schools accountable for the quality of education delivered. If they are unsatisfied, parents can take their child to another school with better learning opportunities.

3)    School Funding ReformSince 1950, the size of non-teaching school staff grew seven times faster than the growth in student populations. The benefits of this 7-1 rate of growth are questionable, at best. School choice helps ensure education dollars follow the student, instead of funding staff surges and other initiatives with ostensible benefits to student learning.

Click here to learn about how you can celebrate National School Choice Week.


In Depth: Academic Freedom

Freedom of speech and inquiry are crucial in higher education. Universities exist to educate students and pursue knowledge. As a “marketplace of ideas,” the university offers a forum for ideas to compete. This intellectual competition produces a level of academic rigor that is impossible to produce without freedom of speech …

+ Academic Freedom In Depth