Educational Choice Equals Prosperity for All
BY JUSTIN OWEN
It’s past time for Tennessee to stop determining the quality of a child’s education based off the same number the Post Office uses to sort mail.
This week, Beacon released our Poverty-to-Prosperity plan for Tennessee. In it, we noted the three key ingredients that can help our fellow Tennesseans escape and stay out of poverty. The first ingredient? A quality education.
Beacon has long championed educational freedom for Tennessee families. Many families already have a choice. If they don’t like their child’s school, they can pick up and move to a better school district or put their child in private school. But sadly, too many children in our state are trapped in schools that don’t meet their needs simply because of their five-digit ZIP code.
It’s past time for Tennessee to stop determining the quality of a child’s education based off the same number the Post Office uses to sort mail. This approach has consequences far beyond that of an individual child (though that alone is enough to act). Studies find that families are fleeing urban areas for the suburbs in search of better schools. That leaves lower-income families isolated in the urban core, creating socioeconomic divides, a decline in neighborhood quality, and economic hardship.
Where educational choice exists, this special sorting of society declines, diversity increases, and local economies are stronger as a result. We already know that educational choice benefits the children who get to attend a school that better meets their needs. We also know that the mere existence of that choice even helps those who choose to stay in traditional public schools. And we know that it even saves taxpayers money. This new research shows that, on top of all this, it makes our society more prosperous as well.
Parental access to a quality education obviously has a tremendous impact on the children who currently lack those options. Now we know it makes entire societies freer and more prosperous. If we really want to advance prosperity in our state, the first place we must start is by embracing educational freedom for Tennessee families.