Tread Lightly When Regulating Private Schools
Get government out of schools and all will be fine.
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What we cherish dearly in the private school community (be it religious or independent) is freedom—the freedom to provide an education different from that provided in public schools.
America is a pluralistic society, with lots of answers to the question, what is the good life? And schools reflect those answers. Thus we have a rich variety of schools—Jewish, Catholic, Evangelical, Montessori, Waldorf, and a host of others. These schools give parents the chance to make a match between their definition of the good life, their idea of the purposes of education, the needs of their child, and the offerings of a particular school.
We should all cherish such diversity; without it there is no freedom in education. If the government so regulates schools as to destroy their difference—meaning everyone must use the same common standards—it has, in effect, robbed parents of the right to direct the upbringing of their children. Choice, after all, requires options.
So for lawmakers who are examining standards for school choice programs, the question should be, how do we develop accountability measures that respect and preserve diversity of options and parental freedom?