OPINION: Parents Have A Right To Educational Options For Their Kids


Inez Feltscher Independent Women’s Forum
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Alongside an entire slate of ludicrous legislation in the Golden State, California’s AB2601 went into effect in the new year.

The law forces charter schools, which until now have escaped some of the most heavy-handed regulations placed upon traditional district schools, to teach the same sex-education curriculum as the rest of the state, taking time away from focus on basic subjects like mathematics and reading.

Charter schools are public schools, but key to their entire purpose has been a certain amount of operational and curricular freedom. In California, charters have now lost their ability to differ with the traditional public schools that parents enroll their students to escape.

This move was cheered by Planned Parenthood, which called the bill’s passage “some good news for your timeline” on Twitter. But not all parents feel the same about the sex ed on offer at the traditional public schools.

In fact, parents across the nation recently pulled their children out of school in a mass protest of the extremely left-leaning agenda in these classes, which assumes even young children will be sexually active and teaches them explicit material that their parents found objectionable, including about transgender identity.

Regardless of where you fall on what sex education is appropriate for children, parents ought to be in the driving seat when their kids confront these sensitive issues. Instead, progressive activists in California have managed to extend their dominion beyond the traditional public schools, and into charters.

School choice must mean more than just switching out how the money gets distributed. In order to be meaningful, school choice must provide parents with a variety of different options that suit their children’s learning needs, as well as their own values. It’s become far too commonplace today for parents to feel the need to counteract what their kids learn in school.

We live in a country with tremendous ethnic, religious, and political diversity. It often seems difficult in these polarized times to find agreement even on the most basic principles. Why, then, should the children of a country this incredibly varied be channeled ruthlessly into a one-size-fits-all education system that ignores the multiplicity of values their parents believe in?

Forcing everyone into the same system is a recipe for frustration and even conflict, neighbor against neighbor.

National School Choice Week, where we celebrate the options that growing educational choice across the country has returned to parents, is coming up at the end of this month.

Conservatives must commit — not just to prioritize — school choice, which is the only effective policy to ensure their principles survive into the future but to protect educational freedom from the incursions of homogeneity of values.

Americans accept, and even embrace, the fact that their neighbors do not have to share their values. This is to the credit of our great classical liberal tradition. But they shouldn’t accept the dominance of one extreme perspective on sex ed — or for that matter, on history, literature or any number of subjects.

As we celebrate school choice week, it’s important not to just offer parents choices like charter schools, tax credit scholarships, homeschooling and education savings accounts, but to ensure that these different types of educational options reflect a real and meaningful variety of educational values. Nothing else will do in this fantastically diverse country.

Inez Feltscher Stepman (@InezFeltscher) is a senior policy analyst at the nonprofit Independent Women’s Forum, a group dedicated to advancing policies that enhance freedom, choice and opportunity.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.