- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2021

It’s time the federal government starts directly funding parents, not broken school systems, to decide what’s best for their children’s education.

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught parents anything – it’s just how inept our public education system is. Teachers’ unions across the country are placing absurd demands on their communities in order to go back to work. Critical race theory has replaced civics in classrooms. And parents – desperate to have their children not be left behind – are turning to private and homeschooling in droves.

Private schools in areas with more public schools that did not reopen for in-person instruction saw greater enrollment increases in fall 2020, despite the economic downturn, according to a new study released by Kennesaw State University. Interest in homeschooling has also exploded. The National Home Educators Research expects the number of homeschooled students to swell by 10% this year, from 2.5 million to roughly 2.75 million children.

That means parents – not failed school systems – need financial help. 

This month, Republican Senator Rand Paul reintroduced his Support Children Having Open Opportunities for Learning (SCHOOL) Act. The bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to allow certain funds authorized under those laws to follow a child, whether learning in person or remotely, to the public school, private school, or homeschool of the child’s choice. 



Parents could use the funds for curriculum materials, tutoring, on extracurricular activities, private school tuition, technology needs, and educational therapies for students with disabilities. 

U.S. Representative Chip Roy offered matching legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Nearly one year after Americans were told we should take ‘two weeks to slow the spread,’ too many children are still barred from attending school in person, while billions of dollars have been allocated to the very local authorities keeping schools closed,” Rep. Roy said in a statement. “No more funding should be allocated to these local tyrants at the expense of our children’s futures. Parents should be in control of their child’s education, period, not politicians or union bosses.” 

Amen. 

There’s no doubt teachers’ unions across the country will throw a fit over such a bill, but how do they have any standing on this issue? They’ve already deemed themselves non-essential workers by refusing to reenter the classroom, and in some cases, placed far-left social-justice policy changes, like defunding the police, Medicare for All, wealth taxes and charter school bans, on their list of demands for reopening.

All of these theatrics have exposed teachers’ unions for what they are – political not student advocates. 

Dr. Vinay Prasad, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco, tweeted that teachers’ unions “will be held responsible for their irrational demands and stonewalling, and I am not sure they will survive the public reckoning.” 

He cites the science – that the risk of transmission within schools is low, but the phycological and socioeconomic risks on our youth of schools remaining closed are potentially “cataclysmic.”

Parents have recognized this first-hand – dealing with depressed and unenthused children being forced to stay in their homes and remotely learn. Reports of “missing children” from the public-school rolls have been widely reported by the Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets. The New York Times documented a surge of teen suicides in Las Vegas, that was pushing schools to reopen.

Public schools and the bureaucrats that control them have no incentive to hurry to full in-person learning because they’re guaranteed to get federal monies no matter if they’re open or closed. Sen. Paul’s bill gives them a reason to compete – to put the children first or risk losing out on federal dollars.

Families are best equipped to make the right decisions for their children – empowering them with federal dollars would enhance students education and may even force much needed institutional change within our public education system.

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