GOP Primary: Trusting Parents In Education (School Choice)


The GOP isn’t necessarily seen as a united party at the moment. It’s hard to find a single issue where the 15 Republican presidential candidates actually agree. However, there is one message that is being consistently stated by candidates from Bush to Paul to Carson. That message has to do with education:


Take a look at what has been said. (Bold added for ephasis)

Jeb Bush: “The best solution to our nation’s failing educational system is empowering parents.” [Source]

Ben Carson: ““Education that is closest to home, local education, seems to be the most effective education. So I would tend to be much more in favor of education that is controlled at a state level and by local municipalities—and in which the parents have a much greater say about what is happening with their children.” [Source]

Chris Christie: ” I think parents are better suited to make decisions about their children’s education than union leaders.” [Source]

Ted Cruz: “Every parent has a right to educate his or her children.” [Source]

Carly Fiorina: ““Parents play incredibly important roles in a child’s education, and any successful education reform plan must embrace and encourage robust parental involvement.” [Source]

Jim Gilmore: ‘Parents should have options to home-school their children or perhaps get support in sending them to private school.’ [Source]

Lindsey Graham: “Education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials, and states.” [Source]

Mike Huckabee: “I am steadfast in my belief that parents—parents—should ultimately decide the best venue for their children’s education.” [Source]

Bobby Jindal “Instead of the child following the dollars … we make the dollars follow the child … because we trust parents not bureaucrats to make the best decisions for our kids.” [Source]

John Kasich: “And there will be more. More school choice, giving families more control over how and where to educate their kids, including technical and vocational education.” [Source]

Rand Paul: “The responsibility for education ultimately lies with the parents and education is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. I believe that parents should be empowered to take an active role in their children’s education.” [Source]

George Pataki: ““One of the things I fought for but couldn’t get was an education tax credit, where we could take a part of our taxes and use it to help students to learn better— whether it was with additional support in the public system or paying for education outside in the private or parochial system.” [Source]

Rick Perry: “I see an education system that is the envy of the world, controlled by parents and the people according to the beliefs of the communities in which they live.” [Source]

Rick Santorum: “How about early parent intervention with their children? Instead of focusing on the child and getting them out of the home and into an educational setting, how about focusing on the parents and trying to get the parents more interested and involved? Parents are the first teacher.” [Source]

Marco Rubio: “We need to allow charter schools and other innovative schools to flourish. The key to that is empowering parents. Parents should be the ultimate decision makers on where their children go to school.” [Source]

Donald Trump: “And we’ve got to bring on the competition—open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children.” [Source]

Scott Walker – I trust parents to make the right choice for their children and I want to help them have as many quality choices as possible.” [Source]

This post looked at the rhetoric of the candidates but do their actions support their rhetoric? My next post will look at the actions of these candidates to see how they compare to the statements.

PA Education Summit Report

Two weeks ago had the privilege of attending the 3rd annual Pennsylvania Education Summit hosted by the Pennsylvania Business-Education Partnership. It was an excellent day in Harrisburg as educators, business leaders, and elected officials gathered to discuss the future of education in Pennsylvania. Here our some photos and embedded tweets from the event.

PA Edu. Secretary Pedro Rivera
PA Edu. Secretary Pedro Rivera
@SenatorSmucker @SenatorDinniman @RepRoebuck discussing education funding


Dr. Solomon Lausch, Ron Cowell, and Iain Strachan discussing hiring teachers and staff
Dr. Solomon Lausch, Ron Cowell, and Iain Strachan discussing hiring teachers and staff


Catherine Krummer speaking on NASCAR's Acceleration Nation
Catherine Krummer speaking on NASCAR’s Acceleration Nation


Chad Amond, Michael Marrone, and Hans Meeder
Chad Amond, Michael Marrone, and Hans Meeder discussing career pathway innovation

Visit the Pennsylvania Business-Education Partnership’s website for their latest news and be sure and stop by next year.

North Carolina: A Case Study in Trusting Parents

Seal of NC
Seal of NC

I’ve been digging through some education data from the state of North Carolina and the numbers point to a simple truth: if you trust parents by giving them more educational options to choose from they will exercise that choice.

Prior to the 1980s, the only two official education options available in North Carolina were public or private schools. In 1980s, a series of legal battles paved the way for home instruction options for parents. Then in 1988, the state legislature passed what is still currently North Carolina’s home instruction law.

Beginning in the 1990s, the charter school movement took off. “The North Carolina charter school movement began in 1996, when the General Assembly approved the Charter School Act (CSA)” . . . which “allowed any person, group, or non-profit organization to propose a charter school.” (View Source)

In the graph below, note how homeschooling as a market share begins to grow rapidly beginning near the end of the 1980s, which corresponds to the changes in homeschool law in the state. Note also how charter schools begin to take on a larger market share beginning near the end of the 1990s which again corresponds to changes in the laws.

 here's a full-scale version of the North Carolina school population graph
here’s a full-scale version of the North Carolina school population graph

Here’s another graph that allows us to closely look at the growth of non-traditional education (i.e., non public school.) in NC.

North Carolina data
North Carolina data

Here are three main points that the data shows:

  1. Since home schools were legalized in 1985, the market share of home schools has risen to about 4.8%, while over the same period the market share of public schools fell by 7.7% (see next point).
  2. The same appears to be true of charter schools. Since 2000, the charter school market share grew to about 2.7%. The total growth in market share of home schools and charter schools combined (7.5%) corresponds almost exactly to the decrease in public school market share (-7.7%) since 1985 in North Carolina. 
  3. Home school market share and charter school market share are positively correlated, indicating that the same factor or factors are likely to be affecting each of them.

Opportunities for greater school choice in North Carolina began with key legislative efforts to support homeschooling and charter schools. With a little over two decades worth of data showing the result of those changes in legislation you can see in the data a pent up demand among parents for more education options and when those opportunities are available then parents will begin choosing them. Or put more simply, “If you build it, they will come”. As more choices open up for parents across the country you can see a similar response, a pent up demand for more education options for their kids. Let’s trust parents more.


Data Source