Education freedom: A movement to support children, not broken school systems

Editor’s note: This commentary from Sylvie Legere, a social entrepreneur and impact investor committed to civic engagement, and Denisha Merriweather, director of public relations and content marketing at the American Federation for Children, appeared today on stylemagazine.com.

Because of increased parent engagement, an education freedom movement is sweeping the nation that has the potential to have a significant positive impact on children and communities.

The global pandemic forced parents to engage in local education policies more intentionally than we have seen in over half a century. During the pandemic, the classroom collided with the family room. As moms and dads were front and center in the virtual classroom with their children, many were spurred to question the type of education system their tax dollars supported.

To many parents, it was obvious that systems are being funded, not students.

The United States spends over $750 billion each year on education. Per student, that averages out to $15,000. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of a private elementary school in the U.S. is $7,630, while the average Catholic elementary school is $4,840.

Of course, some states are significantly more. For example, the average cost of a private school in Connecticut is around $23,000 a year. But Connecticut’s public schools also rank No. 2 in the nation. As a result, Connecticut parents are less likely to seek alternative solutions for their children.

For most families, the freedom to use the funds allocated for their child to choose a school setting that best suits their child’s needs is not financially feasible. What if instead of funding buildings, our government funded the child, i.e., the money would follow the children to the school that fits their needs best?

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