If asked, the vast majority, if not all, parents, teachers, administrators and legislators would indicate that they strongly support local control of schools. At the most basic level, local control should obviously mean that parents have direct input into setting policy that determines the quality of education their children receive. After all, it is parents and their children who have the most at stake.
However, in the debates at the Capitol, local control generally means that the school boards, administrators, teachers unions and sometimes teachers are in control of the schools. If we really believed in local control, schools would have to satisfy parents in order to stay in business. That is not happening now.
Let's look at some facts:
•In March, Oklahoma received an F in academic achievement and an F in truth in advertising about education achievement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
•Oklahoma was criticized by the Fordham Foundation in 2005 and 2006 for low performance standards.
•According to research by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the longer children stay in public schools, the worse they do academically.
Clearly the status quo isn't working. It's time to put the education of Oklahoma's children back in the hands of parents. One way to do that is to promote increased school choice. With more competition in the state-funded school monopoly, Oklahoma could do a better job of preparing children for productive and rewarding lives. School vouchers can allow parents to choose the schools their children attend — private or public — and allow the tax dollars to follow the child.
High-income families have had this opportunity for years either by buying a home in a neighborhood with high-performing schools or by paying twice for their children's schooling — once in state taxes and once in tuition at a private school.