In Rhode Island, public school enrollment is down by nearly 5,000 students. This should not be surprising. The coronavirus pandemic exposed the deficiencies of public schooling. The solution: allow parents to choose the school they wish to send their child. The School Choice Movement is a national movement which seeks to pass legislation allowing parents to apply a portion of their tax dollars to the school they send their child. There are many reasons to support this movement.
First, it is a matter of justice and fairness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions.” Unfortunately, here in Rhode Island many school children are at the mercy of their zip codes. Not surprisingly the inability to choose one’s school affects the poor and marginalized since they do not have the means to leave underperforming public schools.
Second, it will improve public education. How often do we hear the claim: the public school system needs more money to function? It doesn’t. Rhode Island spends around $15,000.00 per pupil, which is ninth in the nation. Yet, our test stores continue to decline. Meanwhile, our Catholic schools charge an average of $6,500 per student and our test scores are higher. We can accomplish so much more with so much less. By introducing competition into education, it will force efficiency and needed changes into the public school system.
All students deserve a good education. School Choice legislation is the way to accomplish that.
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