Celebrate School Choice Week by Learning about Education Options
This month, we celebrated and honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who fought for equality and a quality education for all children. More than fifty years later, too many of our district schools are failing Latino families. This is the social justice issue of our generation.
More than half of California’s public school students are Latino — nearly 3.2 million students. But sadly, California is not prioritizing Latino students. Only 21% of Latino students meet state math standards and just 36% of Latino students meet grade-level English standards. This is despite California paying around $23,000 per pupil in our public schools. California must do better in providing a quality education to Latino students.
Unfortunately, many of California’s school districts and school boards are controlled by the state’s powerful teachers’ unions that put politics ahead of children. Bringing change to our public schools will take time: time that many families don’t have when it comes to getting a good education for their children.
A new survey shows that 64.6% of Latino parents said they’ve considered changing their child’s school. This week, January 22-28, is National School Choice Week, a great time for families to learn more about their education options.
In California, school choice is about giving parents access to the best K-12 education options for their children and allowing parents to be in the driver’s seat of their child’s education. Now, more than ever, parents want choices, especially in the aftermath of mandated school closures orchestrated by the teachers’ unions.
A growing movement of Latino families are exercising their right to choose the best educational environment for their kids. Tens of thousands of Latino students have left district schools for better education options. Many of these families are choosing public charter schools that are free public schools open to everyone, but most are not controlled by the teachers’ unions. Today, more than half of the students in California’s public charter schools are Latino.
Latino families are also choosing options like homeschooling and virtual schooling that allow families more control over the values taught to their children or the ability to leave schools where they don’t feel their children are safe.
Other families are choosing private schools, but many more Latino parents would choose this option if California enacted education savings accounts (ESA). ESAs would allow parents to spend state-funded K-12 education dollars to send their child to the school families decide is best for them.
As parents, we must unite and fight for quality public education for all children, no matter where we live in California. Our children have suffered for too long in district schools that spend more and more of our tax dollars while teaching less and less.
In too many of our district schools, we have become accustomed to failure, graduating Latino students who cannot compete with their peers in California and around the country.
I founded the Parent Union on a single key insight: parents are in the best position to choose what’s best for their families. Why do families have to accept the teachers’ union agenda to force Latino children into the one-size-fits-all mentality of our K-12 public school system?
The answer is: you don’t.
Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias is the founder of Parent Union, the Director of Latino Engagement at CPC, and a former school board member for Santa Ana Unified School District.