CARSWELL/Freedom is not free
An education revolution is happening. When will it arrive in Mississippi?
An education revolution is happening across America. In state after state, families have been given control of their children’s tax dollars.
For years, wealthier people have been able to exercise education choice by opting to live in a particular school board district or by going private. Now, in over half a dozen states across America, every family will have the freedom to choose.
How is this possible? If you are lucky enough to live in a state with education freedom, you can ask to have your child’s share of the public education budget placed into an Education Savings Account, or ESA. The money in that ESA then follows your child, and your family can spend it at pretty much any public or private school. Some states even allow the money to provide for home schooling.
Wildly popular, tens of thousands of families in education freedom states have rushed to exercise this newly acquired freedom for their kids. Many use the program to move from one public school to another. Others are able to use the value of the ESA to go private.
Whatever families choose, their choices are starting to transform the education landscape in these states for the better.
Three years ago, education freedom was little more than an idea. Conservatives had talked about it since the days of Ronald Reagan, but nothing major changed. Some states saw a significant expansion in the number of Charter Schools. Others, including Mississippi, adopted a limited school choice program for kids with special needs. But until recently there was not a single state that allowed universal education freedom.
Suddenly, and dramatically, the dominos started to fall. In 2021, West Virginia passed a law allowing (almost) universal education freedom, followed by Arizona. Other states, such as Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Utah followed.
Earlier this year, Arkansas passed a law to allow education freedom from 2025, and Alabama seems poised to do the same. When will we see something similar in Mississippi?
As in any state, there are vested interests who do not want Mississippi moms and dads to be able to make choices. As Corey DeAngelis, the education freedom advocate, never tires of pointing out, some officials believe parents are too ill informed to be able to make decisions for their own families.
Some in the education system perhaps fear that families armed with choice might expect higher standards (They are right. Families will). Others maybe realise that once parents have more power, it will be harder to impose ‘woke’ ideology on their kids in the classroom (They are also right. Education freedom is the antidote to ‘woke’).
The opposition to change will be intense. It always is. Inertia comes armed with an excuse.
The fact is that Mississippi will soon be bordered on either side by states that have school choice. It is about to be increasingly difficult to ignore the advantages of education freedom for our state.
Douglas Carswell is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, a free market advocacy organization. Reach him at email@example.com.