- - Monday, January 23, 2023

It is time to empower parents to become education entrepreneurs — even if it means facing down powerful teachers unions and the bureaucratic education behemoth to do it.

Americans have long held that the primary responsibility of educating children belongs to parents and that the government plays only a supporting role. The left believes the opposite, with many believing that children belong first to the state and only secondarily to their parents. This callous disregard for the fundamental role of parents is appalling.

And fortunately, parents agree. More parents across the country are pushing back against government overreach and are taking ownership of their children’s education. Jason Sampler, a father from Georgia, told The Washington Post that he was pleased his child’s private school sees itself as a help or support for parents. He stated, “We love that our school partners with us in education. …[W]e work in tandem to best meet each child’s needs.” Alicia G. Edwards, a mother from Miami, praised the independent school her child attends: “It’s an enormous freedom knowing that I get to determine what my student learns and how.”

Parents are particularly fired up in the aftermath of the pandemic. After experiencing prolonged school closings and witnessing the inappropriate content their children were being exposed to, parents are demanding better options for their children.

Interest in independent schools has risen nationwide. According to a report by the James Madison Institute, Hebrew school enrollment in South Florida exploded in the wake of the pandemic, and 170,000 Florida students use a private school choice scholarship program. But these changes are not limited to Florida. Private Christian school enrollment is up 35% and charter school enrollment increased by 7% in the 2020-2021 school year.
In addition, the number of home-schooled students has doubled since the pandemic. Among Black families, home-schooling rates went from just 3% to 16%, according to Cheryl Fields-Smith, professor of elementary education at the University of Georgia.

And these are not temporary trends. According to a National Parents Union poll, most parents want more schooling options for their children. In fact, 80% of parents surveyed said the 2020-21 school year caused them to want more input and involvement in their child’s education.

This marketplace model is the future of K-12 education. Yet the Biden administration is throwing cold water on education freedom. President Biden’s charter school rule, for example, imposes significant and arbitrary demands on charter schools that focused more on union complaints and demands rather than student needs or academic concerns.

That is why I am fighting to restore power to parents. Two important bills that were introduced last Congress, the Educational Choice for Children Act and the Parents Bill of Rights Act, will be priorities for Republicans in the new Congress as well.

Before parents can choose the best schooling option for their child, they need information. That’s what the Parents Bill of Rights provides. This legislation will force schools to increase curricular and financial transparency so parents can make informed decisions. The Educational Choice for Children Act will expand education opportunities for millions of students, giving them and their parents the freedom to direct their own academic careers. Parents should be at the helm of their child’s education, and these bills will help them get there.

In the 118th Congress, the era of trapping children in failing government-run schools is over. Republicans are giving parents the tools to make the best choices for their children’s education.

• Rep. Virginia Foxx represents North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and is chairwoman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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