NFL and School Choice


September 12, 2014 11:01AM

With football season in full swing, there’s one National Football League proposal that will likely have fans crying fowl. To level the playing field for teams, the NFL has proposed eliminating the draft and creating zones from which teams will receive college talent.

It would work like this. The Tennessee Titans’ zone would represent all of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as a small sliver of northern Alabama. Players from college teams within those zones—such as UT, UK, and UAB—would automatically be drafted to the Titans.

There would be one exception. Those players willing to pay a $100,000 fee could waive this rule and apply to be drafted by any team in the country. Presumably, this would make it more difficult for any one team to “buy” the best draft picks, making the entire league more uniform, even with the above caveat.

Of course, this proposal is a hoax. The NFL would never suggest such an arbitrary approach to drafting players from college. But it does pose an interesting question: why on earth is this exactly how we structure our public school system? A child’s school, from pre-Kindergarten through high school, is determined by a ZIP Code, an imaginary boundary dictating their educational fate. It doesn’t matter which schools want to accept that student or where that child and her parents want to send her, the rules are the rules. Only those wealthy enough to afford private school tuition can “buy” their way out of this box. This is as unacceptable for our children as it would be for the NFL.

Students should have a wide array of options at their fingertips, ensuring that they have every possible chance to succeed, whether it’s in their zoned public school, a private school, a charter school, or even an online learning environment. School choice provides such a path. With choice, parents, not ZIP Codes, can determine the educational fate of our children. And that’s exactly where the decision should lie. If you would get up in arms about the spoof NFL policy, it’s time to consider why so many people are agnostic to treating our kids this same way. It’s time for all Tennesseans, young and old, wealthy and not, to stand together in support of School Choice NOW.