This article was first published on palmettopromise.org
Two Wall Street Journal articles published in early September (September 4th and September 13th) documented the growing shortage of bus drivers, both across the country and in the state of Massachusetts specifically, where Governor Charlie Baker is enlisting the National Guard to help students get to school.
Parents of children who would normally ride the bus are being paid to transport their children, something parents of non-bus riders already do without similar compensation.
This raises some important questions: if there is not enough staffing to transport children to schools, why not give the funds that would have supplied the salaries of bus drivers back to every parent of a child enrolled in that school? And is it wise to pull the National Guard away from their normally assigned duties?
The National Guard can be called up by the state governor for emergencies. But according to a recent poll by EdChoice, the real schooling emergency is that parents’ desire to expand their students’ educational options are not being granted.
To add salt to the wound, in one example, parents in Kentucky who would benefit from educational opportunity programs are currently being opposed in court by national unions such as the American Federation of Teachers. The results show that while up to 90% of students attend public schools, 2/5ths of parents would prefer their children receive their education somewhere else if they had the means to do so.
Yet, instead of seeing this transportation dilemma as a chance to implement solutions that would benefit parents and children, the push is to keep children in their zip code-assigned schools at all costs. Schools that around 40 percent of students attend because their parents lack the resources to make another decision. Sadly, the wishes of these parents for education freedom are ignored or openly opposed.
Here at PPI, we believe that parents are the ones best able to determine what type of education fit their child’s needs. Palmetto State lawmakers are currently considering a bill (H.3976) that would dedicate state dollars to education choice scholarships for qualifying students. If enacted, these Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) could fundamentally transform the futures of thousands of students across the state whose families can’t afford to customize their education.
Transportation can often be a barrier to accessing alternative education opportunities, which is why South Carolina’s ESA bill would allow parents to use their ESA to cover transportation costs for their student.
Parents who are passionate about education must be equipped on what it looks like to speak up for their right to make the best schooling decisions for their child. We are here to help! Click here to learn what it means to be a parent advocate. To become a parent advocate and participate in Education Choice Ambassador events, please contact Dr. Shaunette Parker at [email protected].