The great hope held by previous generations of Americans is that their offspring will grow to be better off than themselves in a meritocracy that rewards effort and hard work.
It’s the same hope Lauren and I have for our three girls.
But today that hope is hanging on by a thread, compromised by a leftist educational elite blindly devoted to creating equal outcomes.
The expanding failure of government schools is jeopardizing the American Dream and damaging our future competitiveness with other nations.
Instead, the focus should be on equal opportunity through high-quality education. During my public service as a state senator, I fought to improve Ohio schools and enact reforms that opened access to all.
But there was always an obstacle: far-left teachers unions and school administrators who disdain parental involvement and resist accountability in the classroom.
And as parents questioned lockdowns at school board meetings across America, these groups even persuaded the Biden administration to have the FBI label parents − parents! − as domestic terrorists just because they spoke up for their kids. This collusion is worthy of further investigation.
The terrible result of pursuing these lockdown policies is now abundantly clear: learning loss, falling test scores, and a rampant increase in absenteeism, in Ohio and across the nation. These unacceptable results come after school districts received $190 billion in federal taxpayer cash infusions during the pandemic − an incredible six times what they get from Washington, D.C. in a normal year.
The miscalculations in education policy exacerbated a shocking rise in anxiety, depression, homicide and suicide among young people.
Yet the same radical leftist unions and administrators that leaped to defend the very worst possible actions during COVID-19 are also resolute in defeating the only policy choice that can save American education: school choice.
One of the worst examples of radical leftist malice toward school choice is on full display in neighboring Pennsylvania. There, unions intimidated a newly elected liberal Democrat governor into abandoning a forward-looking school choice proposal.
Fortunately, governors and legislators in other states are showing courage. To date, 76 school choice programs or policies are in operation in 30 states educating more than 600,000 children.
Researchers have conducted 175 studies on the effectiveness of these programs measuring test scores and other aspects, with 151 of them showing positive results.
Right here at home, Ohio is also expanding school choice, as Gov. Mike DeWine and the legislature this July agreed to expand scholarships that can be used for private schools or homeschooling.
This agreement builds on a voucher program I helped pass when I served in the Ohio Senate in 2013.
While I strongly support these changes, states can only do so much against the determined effort to keep parents out of their kids’ education. The federal government can lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Action by states stands in stark contrast to the rank liberal hypocrisy displayed in Washington, D.C. According to a recent report, 12 U.S. senators oppose school choice for the rest of us but send their own kids to private schools.
In the Senate, I will work to reinforce the vision and foresight of parents, local leaders, and state legislators to expand educational freedom and confront the educational monopoly.
We should end the federal government’s ever-expansive and meddlesome role in education and pursue efforts to close down the U.S. Department of Education.
Students should not be forced to attend unsafe or chronically underperforming schools, and the movement toward school choice, charter schools, vouchers and greater parental involvement must continue.
As the only candidate with school-aged children, I view school choice not as a political matter, but as a civil rights issue.
It is the only education policy that can realistically stop us from falling behind other nations.
To turn the tide, we must fight to level the playing field so that parents, not the teacher’s unions, choose what’s best for their children.
Frank LaRose is Ohio’s Secretary of State and candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Read the full column featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer here.