This guest Insight was authored by Greg Raleigh, a Washington, D.C.-based educational mentor and youth counselor.
ALF’s 2021 Annual Report features an article, The Case for Education Freedom and Protecting Charter Schools, that is closely in tune with Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of a United States in which all children, regardless of race or socio-economic background, have an equal opportunity to obtain an effective elementary and secondary school education. Dr. King himself was an example of the benefits of education freedom: After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School and Morehouse College (a private, historically black college) in Atlanta, he then earned graduate degrees from two integrated institutions of higher education, Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University School of Theology.
The ALF Annual Report article, authored by Virginia Gentles, Director, Education Freedom Center, Independent Women’s Forum, explains that “American elementary and secondary students have suffered the most throughout the [Covid] pandemic because of pandemic-era school closures and abysmal remote instruction. Negligent school district leaders endangered children academically, emotionally, and physically by closing and refusing to open schools, decisions that led to devastating learning loss, significant mental health issues, and higher rates of suicide and obesity.” Ms. Gentles observes that “Study after devastating study reveal the widespread academic and emotional harm school district bureaucrats, teachers unions, and union-supported school board members inflicted on America’s children.” As a result, “Policymakers must expand education freedom and protect charter schools in order to provide parents and students with a path out of the learning loss crisis created by traditional public school districts.”
As an African-American who was well educated in California public schools during the 1970s and 1980s, I too deplore the recent and ongoing curriculum and other changes that, along with Covid-related closures and restrictions, have politicized, sexualized, and deteriorated public school education and resulted in severe learning loss throughout the United States, especially in depressed urban areas. School choice, including parents’ ability to use state and local government funding to educate their children in charter, private, parochial, and homeschool settings, is essential, at least unless and until the past two years’ public school education mess can be remedied.
Ms. Gentles’ article discusses why education freedom and parental choice enable students to reach new horizons not limited by race or socio-economic status. This is how we break the cycle of generational poverty that leads to crime on the nation’s streets. Unfortunately, national teachers unions, working in concert with the current U.S. Department of Education, seek to deprive parents of school choice by forcing students to be educated, if at all, in under-performing public schools where often-unqualified teachers choose, or are forced to follow, ineffective, historically inaccurate, racially divisive, and inappropriate curricula.
Our children should not be deprived of the best schools and brightest teachers due to misguided public health and educational policies, federal government regulations, and teachers unions’ politics. Education freedom was the dream of Dr. King. Why are federal and state agencies, local boards of education, and teachers unions, trying to stop it from becoming a reality?