‘Superman’ And The Freedom To Choose
In the recently acclaimed documentary on America’s failing schools, Waiting for Superman
, the statement is made that "the fate of our country won’t be decided on a battlefield — it will be determined in a classroom." If that’s true, shouldn’t parents have the right to choose what kind of classrooms shape our nation’s fate . . . and our children’s future?
"Parents must maintain the opportunity to seek out and choose the best educational environment they can for their own children."
Our country is blessed with many good public schools. Some graduate more than 90 percent of their students, in classrooms where violence is low and test scores are high. Some even respect the rights of Christian kids to share their faith, bring their Bibles to school, and participate in a Bible club. A few do all of these things and still celebrate Christmas.
But in America today, these schools are not the rule — they’re the exception. On average, public schools only graduate about 70 percent of their students. That’s about 7,000 kids dropping out each day. Plus, U.S. test scores rank 25th out of 30 industrialized nations. Violence and drugs are endemic. And, just as important, many schools do not respect the rights of Christian kids.
Children should not be compelled to suppress, ignore, or hide their faith on school property. Students of all ages have the right to participate in Bible clubs, read their Bibles, submit work that relates to their religious beliefs, and share those beliefs with others.
ADF continues to work in defense of these rights.
But, more and more, parents wanting to ensure their children’s free expressions of faith are looking for options beyond the powerful secular stronghold of the government-run public school system — a system thoroughly dominated by groups like the National Education Association, which does more to protect its union members than the children they are entrusted to teach.
Many Christian parents are embracing the possibilities afforded by charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling. But for the majority, those options are simply not feasible.
There are ways to change this. New programs, such as school tuition tax credit and/or voucher programs, are now available in several states and — in many cases — make private schooling attainable even for low- and middle-income families. But these programs should be available everywhere. Money for education should follow the children . . . not the other way around.
"Parents are looking for options beyond the powerful secular stronghold of the government-run public school system.”
Like any "business," public schools need real competition, working to keep students by becoming more innovative, rewarding successful teachers, and letting unsuccessful ones go. The monopoly of public schools, run largely by powerful leftist unions, needs to be broken.
ADF has been ramping up those efforts to help make school choice accessible, including our litigation of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn case before the U.S. Supreme Court. We won — and the import of that decision cannot be overstated. It has thwarted the ACLU’s efforts to eradicate school choice programs across the country, while securing the legality of our tithes and charitable donations in support of these private education opportunities.
And "opportunities" is the key word. Parents must maintain the opportunity to choose and access the best educational environment they can for their own children. As Christians, that’s not only our right, but our obligation. Neither our children’s future — nor our nation’s — should be left in the hands of the government, the NEA, or the ACLU.
When it comes to education, these are all Kryptonite. Only a parent can be Superman.