How interesting — no, how ugly — were the teachers unions’ pro-Cary Kennedy attack ads during the Democratic primary against Michael Johnston and even Jared Polis. Their crime? They dared to discuss parental choice in education.
Middle- and upper-income parents who are dissatisfied with the public school to which their children are assigned have the means to pursue alternatives. They can relocate their children by moving their residence to a neighborhood with better schools or send them to private school. Unfortunately, economically disadvantaged parents can afford neither, despite the reality that almost all underperforming, unsafe and failing schools are located in neighborhoods in which they live and from which they do not have the financial means to escape.
This results in an apartheid public education system in which those with means have, and deploy, the disproportionate power that is available to them because of their economic advantages while those without means are left behind. Where is the justice?
More than half the states in our nation have some sort of publicly funded school choice program, be they education savings accounts, school vouchers, or tax credit scholarships. Unfortunately, Colorado is not one of those states.
But fortunately there are privately supported programs that empower low-income parents with the resources to choose a better education for their children. Parents Challenge, based in Colorado Springs, is a 20-year-old program, funded by the generosity of private donors, that has provided grants and scholarships to over 2,000 children coming from disadvantaged families. Those grants and scholarships can be used in the school of their parents’ choice, be it traditional public, charter public, private or home school.
Parents whose children are assigned to failing schools are no longer restricted to accepting their bureaucratically imposed fate. Parents Challenge empowers them with the informational, financial resources and tools to choose whatever school they think is best for their kids. Parents Challenge is helping give children of families in financial need access to the same dreams, aspirations, hopes and opportunities as those who are wealthier. Zip codes cannot be allowed to determine destiny.
Parents Challenge is dedicated to the belief that all families have the right to choose the best educational options for their children. We look forward to this issue being raised in the upcoming general election.
Steve Schuck and his wife, Joyce, are the co-founders of Parents Challenge, a nonprofit organization that empowers low-income parents to choose the best education for their children, be it public, charter, private, or home school. He is a former candidate for governor of Colorado and operates Schuck Communities, a real estate development firm in Colorado Springs.