The election is over and the United States has a new President-elect, Donald J. Trump. Trump ran a campaign grounded in change; and change he will bring. During his first 100 days speech in Gettysburg, Trump outlined some of the changes he will be making. While many of the changes revolve around trade, health care and Washington, D.C., one proposed change revolves around our children and schools they will attend.
A few Republican government officials have been advocating for a policy that gives parents the choice of who educates their children. This means that the neighborhood school that may not be the best environment for your child no longer has to be the school they attend. In 2012, the state spent about $13,635 per K-12 student. This money is then given to the schools to spend on things such as Advance Placement and remedial classes as well as extra-curricular activities, sports and teacher salaries. As it stands now, schools are given money based on the number of students attending the school, while the number of students the school serves is determined by the districting policy on a local level. Under the proposed plan, parents — rather than districting policy — will determine where their children go and the money will follow.
However, you might feel about Trump, you owe it to yourself and children to examine how this policy will affect education as a whole. Consider first that this change will be a good chance for parents of children who attend under-resourced schools to finally get their children in places where students are finding success. This, however, may inadvertently turn those same already under-resourced schools into schools with very little funding.
This policy may provide a chance for schools with more money to pay their teachers higher wages or hire more teachers. On the other hand, it may inundate schools with children and cause class sizes to be bigger.
Lastly, this policy might allow the funds being transferred to be used at charter and private schools. This would mean that parents could finally tailor their children’s education toward values important to them by sending their children to religious and ethnic-centered schools with values based curriculum. This could cause a significant amount of money to be pulled from public education, creating a job shortage for teachers, fewer public schools and a generation of students receiving varied curriculum.
As with any change, we might be left to see how the chips lie after they fall. However, one would be wise to consider the opportunity-cost of the change coming. What are the advantages and disadvantages of parental choice in education?
Anay Pope is a master’s student at the College of Education at Penn State.