Since the death of George Floyd, “systemic racism” has become the topic du jour. I certainly believe America’s public schools have a systemic problem: education monopolization.
In short, the vast majority of Americans have no choice whatsoever when it comes to the school their children attend. For the overwhelming majority of Americans, education options are nil. They have no choice but to attend the school that their ZIP code dictates they do.
This is ludicrous. All Americans, regardless of race or income, should have an array of options when it comes to the most vital element of their lives: their education.
Fortunately, President Trump recognizes the absurdity of the public school monopoly status quo. Such is why Trump recently stated, “We’re fighting for school choice, which really is the civil rights [issue] of all-time in this country. Frankly, school choice is the civil rights statement of the year, of the decade and probably beyond. Because all children have to have access to quality education.”
Bravo, Mr. President, for being brave enough to call this abomination for what it is.
Trump went on to say, “A child’s ZIP code in America should never determine their future, and that’s what was happening. All children deserve equal opportunity because we are all made equal by God.” Ain’t that the truth!
So, why is school choice in America practically non-existent? One word: Unions. Or, more specifically, public sector teachers unions, such as the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. Yes, these two colossal unions, almost by themselves, have prevented school choice for decades!
Why? Well, mostly because these two unions cater exclusively to the desires of their millions of members, who happen to be teachers, not students. In other words, teachers’ unions are solely dedicated to representing the interests of public school teachers over all else, especially America’s students.
Trust me, I would know. I was a public high school teacher for half a decade. And everything the teachers’ unions did (or tried to do) was in the best interests of teachers, not children. And one of the most pressing agenda items for public sector teacher unions is protection from competition (along with higher salaries and more positions in schools, hence more members). This competition typically comes in the form of private schools, charter schools, and even home-schooling.
Teachers’ unions and the politicians to whom they give millions of dollars in campaign funds (talk about a conflict of interests!) are in cahoots in their war on school choice. Unfortunately, this war on school choice most impacts children from low socio-economic backgrounds.
In other words, the teachers’ unions (and the reprehensible politicians they support) are engaging in “systemic racism” because their stranglehold on education most negatively impacts urban children, who attend pitiful public schools, with no other option available.
Even more mind-boggling, the vast majority of Americans support school choice. And this pro-school choice position crosses racial, political, and generational lines. School choice, in short, would deal a death blow to the corrupt system that is woefully failing America’s children.
Imagine, for instance, if every child in America was given a large sum of money in an education savings account (ESA) that their parents or guardians could use to send their children to the school that best fits the unique needs and circumstances of their individual child.
Robust competition would ensue, and the quality of education in America (which is totally inadequate right now) would likely skyrocket. As President Trump said in his recent remarks, all children have to have access to quality education. This noble objective can be achieved with a simple policy change: Universal ESAs.
Let’s hope our political leaders can come together and do the right thing by allowing every single American child the opportunity to attend a safe and high-caliber education environment. With this simple step, the real and actual “systemic racism” that is all too prevalent in America’s education system could finally come to a much-needed crashing end.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.