School choice gives families options

Would a family with five young children go car shopping for a convertible? Probably not. Likewise, would a single business executive who likes flashy wheels buy a minivan? Again, not likely. And just as cars meet individuals’ unique needs, so too should one of the most important services children will ever receive — an education. National School Choice Week provides the perfect opportunity to highlight the quality educational options that school choice places before parents and families.

Over the past few decades, school choice options have grown by leaps and bounds — across the country, and right here in Michigan. Our state offers open enrollment options — the opportunity to attend traditional public schools outside neighborhood boundaries. Michigan also contains a vibrant selection of charter schools, academies funded by taxpayers, but with more flexibility and accountability than traditional public schools. Michigan also offers 82 different magnet school programs for students with specialized curricular interests. And we have online course choice options — including programs that enroll full-time students in tuition-free online studies.

Michigan also gives parents who want more hands-on direction of their children’s learning have tremendous freedom to provide home education. Some homeschooling families have chosen to partner with local traditional school districts to help enhance their children’s learning opportunities.

School choice looks to provide these different options because students have unique needs, interests, and learning styles. Just as car companies based right here in Michigan give customers a choice of various automobile sizes, styles, and colors, so too should parents have the opportunity to tailor and customize their children’s educational program.

This week parents, teachers, and students will gather at more than 32,000 events nationwide to mark National School Choice Week. The events celebrate school choice and the enthusiasm for learning that comes with it. When school choice places students in the best educational environment for their needs, their enthusiasm shines forth in their joy for learning — and in their results.

We should work to give every child that joy of learning. Let’s ensure that every parent has the ability to choose the best educational options for their kids.

Beth DeShone

advocacy director,

Great Lakes Education Project

Ben DeGrow

director of education policy,

Mackinac Center for Public Policy