Not enough freedom in education system

During my time in the Senate, I have fought to make school spending more transparent, reduce administrative overhead and eliminate burdensome regulations. Oklahoma needs a transformational tool — educational freedom — to make our education system a bright example for the country. I believe in allowing schools to focus on students, not forcing students to be locked in to where they attend school by where they live.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless

We must follow the principles of the free market when it comes to education. When my car breaks down, I don’t do business with the closest mechanic to my home. I find the mechanic who can provide the best service and repair for my money. The same is true for many services the government provides, including higher education through Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarships to private universities.

Low-income and working-class families have next to no freedom when it comes to educating their children. Most parents are lucky enough to live within the boundaries of a quality school, full of passionate professionals who will prepare their child for success. But what about the parents who don’t? In order for their child to receive a high-caliber education, they must move across town or cross their fingers and hope for the best.

I have fought to empower parents by giving them an active role in deciding where and how their child is educated. This session, I am proposing legislation that allows qualified families to move their child from a public school and take up to 75 percent of the student’s funding with them. This funding could then be used to help offset the cost of a private school, tutors, homeschool supplies or other specified educational expenses — all while allowing the local district to retain 25 percent of the funds for a student they no longer provide services to.

Freedom works, it always has and always will. If we really want to improve the quality of the education system in Oklahoma, we must allow parents the ability to chose where their child attends school. Is the education establishment so worried that a wave of students will leave public schools? If so, is the product they are providing worth 50 cents on every tax dollar for the state?

Many are concerned that allowing families to make these decisions for themselves will cause chaos to the status quo. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. The current system isn’t cutting it. We have too many school districts, too many superintendents, too much bureaucracy and not enough freedom.

About the author: Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, represents District 45 in the Oklahoma Senate. This submission first posted by The Oklahoman January 15, 2017.

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