Opinion: K-12 Update

Lindalyn’s Journal

Week of June 25, 2007

Summer is well under way, with July 4th just a few short days away. As we enjoy the holiday with family and friends, we would do well to reflect on its importance. Take a few minutes to remind yourself and your family why we celebrate.

Our freedoms in this country came at a cost: those men who affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence risked their very lives, knowing they could be hanged for treason by Great Britain. What a lesson in courage.

Today, thousands of soldiers put their lives in jeopardy to protect our country and our hard-won liberties. To those who fight, we say thank you. But while soldiers labor to protect America from outside threats, we must work to safeguard our nation from within.

As reform-minded parents, educators, and citizens, our battle is primarily an ideological one, as we fight to advance the concept of educational freedom. After all, education and freedom are inextricably bound together, and have been since the founding of our nation. As Thomas Jefferson, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be.”

In the battle to eradicate ignorance and fight for freedom, there are many heroes. The pioneers of the school choice movement like Milton Friedman surely blazed a trail of independence, opening the aperture of educational freedom for countless schoolchildren. But all too often, we forget the many committed teachers, principals, school board members and other employees within the government education system itself who toil to advance the cause of education. These individuals must strain under political mandates that tear down rather than build up. Surely, making a difference in the lives of children – within this mammoth system – requires no small measure of courage.

For those of us in the trenches, supporting school choice and other education reform initiatives should not preclude us from working to make government education better. Fortunately, concepts like school choice are predicated on the idea that market-based competition actually improves all education providers, including public schools. Most importantly, though, choice gives parents the liberty to choose for themselves how best to educate their children. That’s a freedom worth fighting for. Happy July 4th!