Editorial: School choice trends should help teachers and students Denver – Gazette

Traditional public schools are facing declining enrollment in Colorado and across the country. If it continues, the trend could revolutionize K-12 education. Let’s make sure it improves the lives and futures of teachers — substantially underpaid and undervalued by a union-led one-size-fits-all system — and their students.

Research by the American Enterprise Institute found that more than 1.2 million students have dropped out of the public school system since 2020. The74, a nonprofit educational organization, found that 1.5 million students have dropped out of public schools since 2020.

Denver Public Schools projects a 3% enrollment decline from 2019 to 2021. A district report predicts that the trajectory will accelerate and continue.

In Colorado Springs, the city’s Central School District 11 faced a staggering drop of 4,100 students over the past four years — a decline that began on the heels of a major voter-approved tax increase to give the district $40 million in additional revenue annually. .

For students in traditional public schools, that means fewer resources. In Colorado, education money is tied to each child so declining enrollment reduces revenue.

For teachers, this means ridiculously low wages for college-educated professionals entrusted with our children and therefore the future of society. As mentioned in the news published in today’s gazette, Colorado teachers earn about 36% less than other workers with college degrees.

Experts told The Washington Examiner, The Gazette’s sister publication, that declining fertility and birth rates are partly responsible for the drop in enrollment.

In contrast, the transition of students from traditional schools has all the characteristics of a free market phenomenon. Parents send children to public charter and private schools, or homeschool them, for a number of reasons that are a perfect storm.

The exodus began years before the pandemic, with nationwide enrollment peaking in 2014.

The pandemic accelerated the shift. Prolonged school closures, which are the most affected by the voluntary exodus, have forced parents to evaluate options outside the traditional model.

Virtual schooling at home during the pandemic has alerted parents to classroom directives that tell children to judge each other based on race and sexual orientation, which the vast majority of parents reject. Additionally, declining test scores across the country are causing parents to question whether traditional public schools are preparing their children to succeed.

Parents and their children are consumers of education. Given the options, consumers won’t stand for dysfunction. If the majority of students in a school cannot read and write at grade level, parents expect them to enter the school with good results.

School choice began with the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The court held that school districts could no longer force segregation of black and white students.

Since that decision, legislatures in Colorado, Florida and many other states have paved the way for parents to establish charter schools — each tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of children. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled three times in four years in favor of allowing children to attend parochial private schools with taxpayer money.

Rich kids always have school choice. Modern policies extend that freedom to children in less fortunate economic situations.

A perfect world offers the perfect school for every child. We will have schools for artistic children, autistic children, gifted children in math, science, writing, music and other subjects. All children will have equal access to unlimited choice.

A perfect world of competition offers good teachers equal pay with their professional peers in law, finance and business administration.

We will never have a perfect world. However, market disruption and competition have led to improvements in cars, homes, energy production, phones, computers, televisions, restaurants, universities, and a variety of services. Free from regulatory constraints, these market factors do the same for K-12 schools.

Parents devoted to their children comprise the nation’s most powerful demographic. If they want alternative schools, nothing can stop them from going their way.

Instead of fighting this trend, school boards, legislatures, unions and bipartisan leadership at all levels should allow it to improve the lives of teachers and students. As seen throughout history, competitive innovation drives us forward.

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