It is no secret Republicans have stood up for school choice, in fact throughout the Republican National Convention the issue was actively discussed, calling attention to the necessity of bringing educational opportunity back to parents.
Donald Trump embodied this view during his nomination acceptance speech at the Cleveland convention in noting that, “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice. My opponent would rather protect bureaucrats than serve American children.”
The school choice Trump, Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence, and his son Donald Trump Jr advocated for has been primarily based on voucher systems, tax credits and parental control over enrollment, while the traditional Republican advocacy of charter schools has been less notable but still mentioned.
They’re not alone, even in the late 1990s Clinton advocated for these same reforms, but now advocates for teachers unions instead.
The 2016 Republican Platform cites the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as a “model for the rest of the country,” a program which is funded through the remainder of the fiscal year but once again needs to be reauthorized.
This program is a common comprehensive voucher plan which provided 1,400 low income, minority, and disabled students across the district scholarships to attend private schools such as the one Obama’s daughters attend. Conducted based on a lottery, 90 percent of these previously disadvantaged students from all types of backgrounds attended college.
Trump also hopes to provide parents with control over where their child attends school rather than arbitrary and archaic district lines. An open enrollment or controlled open enrollment plan has not yet been offered by Republicans on a national level — it is states that have the power to set school admission guidelines — however the platform does call for a constitutional amendment protecting the right of parents to lead their child’s education without interference by any form of government.
Open enrollment got a boost this year in Florida, where Republicans in the state pushed legislation through which supports both open enrollment and charter school development. This newly passed law grants increased liberty to parents to send students to public or public charter schools outside their traditional district.
Ironically, charter choice once had an unlikely advocate, Hillary Clinton.
The Wall Street Journal July 2016 report revealed the inconsistencies in Hillary’s educational policy. In her 1996 memoir she wrote she favored “promoting choice among public schools, much as the President’s Charter Schools Initiative encourages,” and in 1998 said “The President believes, as I do, that charter schools are a way of bringing teachers and parents and communities together.”
The change in her beliefs correlates with her need for teachers’ union support of the Democratic Party. These unions often work against charter and open enrollment policies which promote competition with public schools and accountability. Hillary now heralds them as unreachable for the children in most need. An opinion that only came as support from the American Federation of Teachers came as well.
As Trump advocates school choice and freedom, even Hillary Clinton must know this is the best decision for America’s youth but instead chooses to side with union avoiding accountability. For parents trying to decide how to vote, focusing on their children’s future could answer the questions of our country’s future.