Yesterday marked the beginning of National School Choice Week, a great way to elevate and promote education reform while calling attention to our country’s educational crisis.
The problems with American education are especially pronounced among Hispanics: Latino students lag behind white peers in high school graduation rates across the country. Meanwhile, California’s Hispanic population will be the state’s largest ethnic group in 2013.
You don’t need to be a demographer or even a political scientist to recognize that our country is facing an educational crisis unless the Latino high school graduation rate increases as the Hispanic population continues to grow. This is precisely why every education policymaker should be compelled to rethink whether years of increased federal spending and authority on education policy is the best course forward.
Bold education reform policies are needed that seek to empower parents in order to increase accountability and transparency in our broken education system. One of the best ways to do this is through school choice.
School choice, put simply, is the ability of parents to send their children to schools of their choice. It’s a simple concept, but the reality is that this choice is often limited—particularly among low-income Americans and minority communities. Millions of parents have no choice when it comes to deciding where to send their children to receive a quality education.
Each parent should have the ability to send his or her child to a better public school, a charter school, or even a private school. What’s more, children should not be confined to failing schools with ineffective teachers or high levels of crime and safety-related issues.
Parents know what schools work best for their children’s needs. Perhaps this is why Hispanics are voicing their support for increased school choice measures.
School choice, coupled with other sensible policy measures—including increasing teacher accountability—have been proven to be effective in closing the racial achievement gap. This is precisely why Hispanic organizations should welcome increased choice for Hispanic families when it comes to improving our education system. Thankfully, we are seeing more places like Indiana push forward with ambitious education reforms geared toward Hispanic families.
Israel Ortega is the editor of Libertad.org, the Spanish language page of The Heritage Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.