In today’s hectic and highly politicized world, parents have many things they need to worry about concerning their children’s well-being, with one of the most important things being their education.

Not only does California have failing test scores across the state in both English and math, but it also has the highest high school dropout rate in the nation, and now, has had its school systems completely inundated with programs like ethnic studies and comprehensive sexual education, both of which are highly controversial. It’s no wonder that many California parents are desperate for change.

Luckily, there is hope for all parents across California and it comes in the form of an initiative called the Educational Freedom Act, also known as California School Choice. The California School Choice Foundation has been working hard to put this initiative on the 2022 ballot, which will amend the state Constitution, and return the power of choice back to the parents, letting them choose which school they feel is best for their child. 

One fed-up parent decided to take his child out of the public education system for good. ”I chose to homeschool my child because the California public school system was not teaching my son modern skills that he will need in our advancing society,” said David Fadda. “Now, from home, he learns robotics, programming and coding along with a traditional course of study that builds needed knowledge and skills ... . School choice encourages teachers and schools to excel and improve their capabilities while empowering parents and students to choose what suits them best.”

The program is simple. For those parents who choose to apply, the Educational Freedom Act would establish an Educational Savings Account for each child using California’s already existing Proposition 98 funding,  which currently sits at about $14,000 per student per year. Using this money, parents could choose any accredited school, including private schools, charter schools or an accredited homeschooling program, that they feel would offer the best education for their child. Gone would be the days of being forced to send your child to a specific public school based solely on the ZIP code you live in or your financial status. California School Choice truly evens the playing field for parents of all socioeconomic backgrounds and gives them the opportunity to make the best educational choice for their children. It’s also important to know that nearly 76% of private schools in California fall within the $14,000 a year threshold, meaning that there would be very little if any out-of-pocket cost for the parent.

Under the Educational Freedom Act, any money that is not used during a particular school year would roll over to the next year. For example, if a parent chose to place their child in a school that cost $10,000 a year, they would have $4,000 left over at the end of the year. That money would then be added to the following year’s stipend of $14,000 giving you a total of $18,000 to spend on an accredited school. In addition, any money left over after a child graduates from high school can be used toward paying the tuition at any accredited college, university or vocational training program in the nation. For example, if a child starts on this program from kindergarten, and the parents choose to put that child in a school that costs $10,000 a year, then by the time the child graduates from high school, they would have accumulated $52,000 to use toward a post-secondary education. For parents who choose even less costly options, like homeschooling, that amount could skyrocket to $150,000 or more.

Though this program might sound costly, it is important to note that there would be no extra cost to the state or the taxpayer. This initiative would simply use the money that is already allocated for funding of students in public schools. To learn more and sign the petition, ensuring that the Educational Freedom Act gets on the 2022 ballot, go to CaliforniaSchoolChoice.org.

Rachel Lassman is a writer/researcher and avid volunteer. She is the lead for California School Choice in San Mateo County and is the founder of Coins For Cops, a project she started to thank officers around the nation for their service. She was previously a soccer coach and a secondary biology teacher in Washington, Oregon and California, receiving her bachelor’s in biology from Eastern Washington University and her master’s in teaching from Concordia University in Portland.

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(6) comments

Terence Y

Ms. Lassman – thank you for the information, especially the part about no extra cost to the state or taxpayers. I think everyone can see it’s time for a change to allow more options. Public schools don’t appear to be getting any better and they’re definitely not being run “for the kids.” As an aside, kudos for your Coins For Cops project.

Tafhdyd

What a lot of pro school choice and voucher fans forget is the choice works both ways. They think their kid that is not doing good in a public school will be turned around and be great scholar as soon as they get to move into a private school. They don't understand that a private school is called private because they get to choose who attends. Most have a wait list to get in along with a number of other qualifications that often are difficult to meet by the student and the parents.

willallen

Choice isn't about what school you send your child to. It is about where you spend your education dollar.

Ray Fowler

Tafhdyd...

To have true choice, you need viable options. Ms. Lassman has presented options that may give families greater opportunities than they have now. True choice is anathema to the CTA's leadership... that should tell you all you need to know.

brewster1

A choice for parents who are interested in their children's education. It's about time.

Lou

YES -- School Choice - A welcome, much needed education opportunity.

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