Opinion: The U.S. Education System Needs Freedom, not Funding

I was homeschooled most my life. From kindergarten through eighth grade, I used curriculum at home or attended weekly co-ops for my schooling. 

As a homeschooler, I was perplexed by the idea of kids being in school for over eight hours a day, just to leave and do more homework at home. I completed my courses, which included math, science, history, English, and Latin, every day and my school day lasted for only two to three hours. 

Homeschooling in Texas is unique: there are little to no homeschooling laws. Homeschoolers are not required to submit their work to the state nor are they evaluated by their zoned public school (as the majority of states are). 

When I entered high school, I halted all homeschooling methods, took the entrance exam at my local community college and began taking dual-credit classes to count towards my high school and college credits.  I believe educational freedom is what allowed me to begin college courses at a young age. 

I noticed an educational gap between my homeschooled and public-schooled friends. This is not a question of whether homeschoolers apply themselves more than public schoolers. From my experience, my public school friends worked extremely hard and pushed themselves to learn more than my homeschooled friends did. Myself included. 

The students are not the problem. The public education system is. 

The decline in public education began during the Lyndon B. Johnson era, when he began implementing socialized programs. The launch of Common Core in 2009 hurt education even more. An example of Common Core is as follows: if students are taught how to solve a math problem a certain way but they arrive at a correct conclusion through a different method, their answer is marked incorrect. 

Common Core views education through a narrow lens. But students are uniquely individual. They have individual needs and use methods specific to them. Common core strips children of their creativity and individuality.

If your zoned public school is not serving your child’s needs, then you deserve the educational freedom to send them to one that is. Yet school choice is unpopular among our government officials. 

From the members of the House Education and Workforce committee, 31% send their kids to private school, and 56% of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees do the same. When over half of those in our government are advocating for the federal education system that we fund through our taxes send their kids to private school, there is a problem. If those in charge of legislating the public education system do not believe in the system enough to send their own kids there, why would we send ours? 

So, how do we fight for educational freedoms? We must begin by holding our lawmakers accountable. Lawmakers have become too comfortable within their positions. We need to remind them they work for us and not the other way around. The way we do this is by promoting options such as private schooling and homeschooling.

According to the HSLDA (Home school Legal Defense Association), homeschoolers have GPAs that are about 30% higher than non-homeschoolers. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers score 15-30% higher than public schoolers on standardized tests. To add to this, 78% of peer-reviewed studies by the NHERI found that homeschool students perform, statistically, significantly better than those in institutional schools. This data also showed that whether or not a homeschooled child’s parents have a teacher certification is unrelated to the academic success of the child. 

Homeschooling is not for everyone, which is why school choice is so important. We must decrease federal involvement in education through policy reform: first, by decreasing the Department of Education and giving control back to schools within the state and local level. After all, when the federal government only provides about 10% of the funding for grades K-12, why do we need a whole department, with one person dictating change?

Our children matter. Their educational future matters. We must take a stand and fight for educational freedoms in America. 

As president of The Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James, said, “Public policy built almost solely on good intentions without adequate research to back it up more often harms the very people it was intended to help.”

MacKenzie is the opinion editor. Follow her on Twitter at @PeytMacK.

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