After stunning election victories for school choice supporters in 2010, newly elected champions of educational freedom carried their campaign promises to the statehouse in 2011, resulting in the largest expansion of education opportunity in American history.
In all, the “Year of School Choice,” as it was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal, yielded the creation of seven new programs—with 27 publicly funded private school choice programs. Because of these reforms, there are now over 210,000 children benefitting from school choice programs in our nation.
While reflecting on the victories for school choice advocates in 2011, it’s no wonder that in 2012, we’ve witnessed continued attacks on reformers and, more frequently, parents. Special interest groups, union leaders, politicians, and media commentators often claim to support parents who want better educational options for their children, but recent statements prove otherwise.
Take, for example, a recent statement from Debbie Squires of Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association:
“I’m not saying they don’t want the best for their children, but they may not know what actually is best.”
She’s not alone in her sentiment toward parents. Other union leaders from across the country continue to insult parents who are determined to remove their children from failing public schools. These on-the-record comments are so outrageous and condescending that they inspired the American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—to launch a campaign in defense of parents. It’s aptly titled “Parents Know Best.”
The campaign is designed to expose self-interested bureaucrats and not only shine a light on the true nature of school choice opponents, but also inspire parents to unite together to demand better educational options.
Launched earlier this month with a revealing video outlining comments from Squires and others, the campaign will also educate parents on the various types of school choice, connect them with others in their areas who are interested in joining the education reform movement, and provide a platform for parents to work together against groups intent on maintaining the status quo.
After such a successful year for educational breakthroughs, it’s no wonder we’re witnessing these types of rhetorical attacks on parents and reform advocates. Thankfully, those attacks are failing to make a difference, as we’ve already seen dramatic education reform legislation introduced and passed in a number of states this year. And, we expect the promises created in 2011 to continue throughout the rest of the year.