DEANGELIS: A Parent Revolution Has Ignited

Corey DeAngelis | May 15, 2024

(EdNews Virginia) — A parent revolution has ignited. Eleven states have passed universal school choice in the past three years. In these states, all families are now eligible to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing, whether public or private. We can thank Randi Weingarten and the teachers unions for overplaying their hand and awakening a sleeping giant: parents who want more of a say in their children’s education. The power-hungry unions fought to keep schools closed as long as possible to hold children’s education hostage to secure ransom payments from taxpayers.

But their plan backfired. Families got to see what was happening in the classroom during government-provided Zoom school. Families who thought their kids were in good public schools, as measured by standardized test scores, started to see another important dimension of school quality: whether the school’s curriculum aligned with their values. That realization mobilized parents to speak up at school board meetings and ultimately become a political force to be reckoned with at the ballot box.

The 11 states that have passed universal or nearly universal school choice are West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa, Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Indiana, North Carolina, and Alabama. Indiana’s school choice initiative has 98% eligibility, making it “nearly universal.” Most of these states have education savings account programs, meaning the funding can be used to cover the costs of private education–beyond traditional private school tuition — including microschools, tutoring, textbooks, home school curriculum, special needs educational therapies, and more.

Education freedom is on the march. Georgia and Wyoming both passed their first education savings account programs this year, although they are not yet available to all families. Missouri expanded their education savings account program this year. Louisiana’s House just passed their universal school choice bill with supermajority support by a 72 to 32 vote. Nearly 20% of Louisiana House Democrats even voted for it. We expect to see more big wins in 2025, with all eyes on Texas to pass the biggest education savings account initiative in the nation.

For far too long in K-12 education, the only special interests represented the employees — the adults — in the system. But now, the kids have a union of their own: their parents.

Corey A. DeAngelis, PhD is a senior fellow at American Federation for Children and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is the author of The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids From the Radicals Ruining Our Schools.