Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union address this week. In it, she went hard in the paint for school choice.
“Down the street from where I sit is my alma mater, Little Rock Central High. As a student there, I will never forget watching my dad, Governor Mike Huckabee, and President Bill Clinton hold the doors open to the Little Rock Nine, doors that forty years earlier had been closed to them because they were black.” Sanders began.
She continued, “I believe giving every child access to a quality education – regardless of their race or income – is the civil rights issue of our day.”
“Tomorrow, I will unveil an education package that will be the most far reaching, bold, conservative education reform in the country. My plan empowers parents with real choices, improves literacy and career readiness, and helps put a good teacher in every classroom by increasing their starting salary from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the nation,” she promised. (Sanders made good on that promise too).
“Here in Arkansas and across America, Republicans are working to end the policy of trapping kids in failing schools and sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty,” she said, summing up this portion of her speech.
“We will educate, not indoctrinate our kids, and put students on a path to success,” she concluded.
Sanders is absolutely correct that school choice is the defining civil rights issue of our present day.
For decades, our government has sentenced some children to almost certain cycles of poverty and blocked their access to a quality education. Those children just so happen to predominantly be kids of color thanks to the practice of redlining that trapped communities of color in certain areas of cities. Those homes continue to be worth less to this day, and since schools are mostly funded based on property taxes, and because kids are assigned schools based on their zip codes, those children continue to be stuck in poorer and worse public schools to this day.
It’s no secret that our government (“public”) education system has been in decline for decades. Test scores have slipped embarrassingly compared to other developed countries, while spending per pupil has skyrocketed to a whopping $15,000 average per year average.
One doesn’t even really need data to observe the decline in Americans’ educational prowess either. Spend 5 minutes in the comments section of any online platform and you can witness it firsthand. Our people do not know how to think logically, to apply reason, nor do they know the very basic tenants of our system of government. We’re in a hot mess.
Taxpayers and children have been held hostage in this system by the people who profit off of it (teachers’ unions, administrators, and government bureaucrats) for far too long. And fortunately, parents are starting to fight back and demand options.
Why should a child be stuck in a failing government indoctrination camp merely because of their zip code? This isn’t a tough question, they shouldn’t be.
And why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize a failing monopoly institution when there are far better alternatives within reach?
Again, they shouldn’t be.
School choice is as common sense as it gets. We don’t force welfare recipients to spend their dollars at one grocery store that the government operates, so why apply this model to education? Instead, tax dollars should follow the child and parents should get to decide what educational pathway is best for their unique child.
We need competition in our education system if we ever hope to see better results.
Fortunately, Republican politicians at large seem to be getting the message loud and clear. Arizona passed a universal school choice bill last year. Republican lawmakers in Iowa and Utah passed universal school choice programs last month. Florida’s Speaker of the House is championing what would be the largest universal school choice program in the nation, and it is expected to pass this year. Georgia is also expected to launch a campaign, and many other states are considering similar bills as well.
Momentum is on the side of choice and opportunity. Don’t let up for a second.