Editor’s note: DeAngelis is national director of research at the American Federation for Children. He recorded this interview Tuesday.
We’re super pumped up in the school choice movement. In 2021 we were calling it the year of school choice because 19 states expanded or enacted programs to fund students as opposed to systems. But Arizona just one-upped them all. This is the gold standard of education freedom, and Arizona just cemented itself as the No. 1 state for school choice.
This is obviously the clearest, biggest victory for school choice in U.S. history. Every single family, regardless of income, can take their children’s taxpayer funded education dollars to the education provider of their choosing. That could be a public school, a private school, or a home-based educational option. This is the way to do it, and other states should follow.
Another thing could be just political indoctrination that’s happening in the classroom. Families want kids to learn the basics as opposed to political and politically divisive topics. That could be another reason why families want school choice.
The reality is school choice is a rising tide that lifts all boats. If families have opportunities, they’ll take their kids to the schools that align with their values and best meet their needs in so many different ways. And then the public schools can up their games in response to competition
The evidence on this is clear. Twenty-five of 28 studies find that school choice competition leads to higher outcomes in the public schools. They up their game in response to competition.
Look, this is the purest form of accountability, the strongest form. Under-performing private schools shut down. Under-performing government-run schools get more money. They say, ‘We’re failing because we don’t have enough money. We saw this with the pandemic. They said, ‘We were closed because we needed more money,” and they got billions and billions of dollars in ransom payments. Then they tried to stay closed going into 2022.
This will be up to other legislators in other states. Republicans in particular have called themselves the parents’ party all across the nation. But in Arizona, the Republicans just proved it. The only way to truly secure parental rights in education is to fund students directly and empower families to choose. If you really want to be the party of parents, here’s the way to do it.