There are many well-known arguments against establishing education freedom savings accounts. Here, I would like to describe a little-considered consequence of the passage of the voucher program: It will result in the loss of parents in our public schools who are willing to advocate for the children within the system. Involved parents are essential agents of positive change in our public schools. They are also more likely to consider a move to private schools once it becomes more feasible financially.
It has been a tough year for my daughter and her classmates at our public elementary school. Behavior issues have been negatively affecting the mental and physical well-being of the children since the beginning of the school year. After agitating for change at lower levels, myself and five other parents finally found ourselves sitting with the superintendent of our school district to discuss the situation. Every parent in the room mentioned that they had considered switching their child to a private school or paying tuition in another district. Frankly, none of us could afford it and so there we sat, demanding that something be done.
We left that meeting with every confidence that we had been heard and that positive changes will be made. Needed supports will be put into place and resources will be allocated accordingly. Involved parents are an integral part of the system of checks and balances within a school district; taking action to inform and hold administrations accountable when it becomes necessary. This then positively affects the quality of the educational experience of all of the children in a particular class, school or district.
In our case, switching schools would have been a much easier way out of the situation we found ourselves in. Having to repeatedly advocate for your child and ask for change is exhausting. It takes time and energy that many parents simply do not have, and it takes a pretty thick skin. Yet, when advocacy is the only financially viable option, parents will rise to the occasion and the result is a powerful community-based approach to education. This important collaboration will be severely compromised with the passage of Senate Bill 193.
(Keri Brand lives in Concord.)