The nation’s education system needs reform, but what direction to take and how to get there present a formidable challenge.
Studies have shown that our children’s math and science skills are dangerously below average. Test scores for eighth-grade Ohio students have remained stagnant since 2002. In 2011, about 64 percent of Ohio students scored at basic or below-basic levels on standardized tests.
National School Choice Week, Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, provides an opportunity to explore solutions and revitalize the nation’s education system to provide promising options for children. Choice programs such as charter schools and online learning have proven successful in several states.
Research shows that students who participate in school choice programs graduate at significantly higher rates than those who attend traditional public schools, and students and parents are more satisfied with their experience.
By using public funds already allocated for education and allowing parents the freedom to choose what they think is best for their child, every student can receive an education that is tailored to his or her needs.
Ohio has 326 charter schools, and about 95,000 students were enrolled during the 2011-2012 school year. The number of applicants to these schools has risen steadily over the past few years.
Charter schools offer students smaller class sizes, which present the opportunity for individualized instruction, student involvement, and a safer learning environment. Students who attend charter schools are more likely to graduate from high school and receive a bachelor’s degree.
There also are online learning opportunities that many Ohio parents aren’t aware of. Online learning meets a wide range of students’ educational needs and is unrestricted by geographic boundaries.
Ohio operates 27 eCommunity schools, full-time online charter schools. The program enrolled more than 31,000 students during the 2011-2012 school year.
While all students have the opportunity to benefit from this schooling option, children with disabilities have the specialized chance to learn at their own pace. Students in neighborhood schools who would never have access to Advanced Placement courses or some foreign languages are given these options through online learning.
School choice is a proven solution that is starting to make a difference in Ohio. It has the potential to improve education across the nation. Let’s give our parents a choice and our children a chance.
Director of Communications
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity Alexandria, Va.
Editor’s note: A National School Choice Week event is scheduled at the Valentine Theater in downtown Toledo from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday.