Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 9-12

3 min read

New Conversations about Educational Freedom

Feb 3, 2022 8:00 PM

The notion of "school choice" is not a new one, but discussions around it are perhaps increasing in a new way. It seems to be that when a particular pattern or way of being is interrupted or disrupted, this creates a natural pause and cause for re-thinking the 'status quo.' This is perhaps the case with the education system in the United States in the present moment. The traditional education system in the US (and around the world) was fully disrupted in 2019.

Since that time, many new conversations and considerations have surface among educators, administrators, educational advocates, legislators, and parents. Rather than being able to maintain "school as usual," this has been a time to question on a deeper level: what are the needs of the modern learner, what is the best way to deliver meaningful education opportunities to students in our day and age, is the traditional school model the most effective way of teaching and learning? For parents, the questioning is on a much more personal level: what truly is the best educational approach for my children?

As a result of this unique moment in history and the questions that it is bringing about related to education, conversations--and legislation--are on the rise. In fact, 2021 was considered a breakthrough year for educational freedom, with many new states and localities expanding school choice options for students. Simply put, educational freedom allows parents to choose the educational setting that best fits their student's needs and values. On a practical level, educational freedom legislation allows parents to use state funding for private education, if they so choose. In other words, "the money follows the child" rather than tax money and allocated funds going directly to a system. 

Upper School Girl

Historically, education has been a state right, and the U.S. Constitution makes no explicit mention of education. This provides space for states to determine what policies and systems work best for their individual contexts. This also creates space for a wide range of options (or lack thereof) that exists within the states. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research provides rankings for each state's level of educational freedom. The state of Arizona ranks first on this "Educational Freedom Index," with Hawaii coming in last in terms of educational options and freedom for its constituents. 

The state of Ohio falls in the middle of this Educational Freedom Index--neither in the top ten or in the lowest ten. Ohio currently offers five educational choice programs, but only 33 percent of Ohio students are eligible for one of them. The state legislature is now considering HB290, dubbed "the Backpack Bill," which would significantly expand educational freedom in the state. Though there are opponents to the expansion of educational freedom across this state and across the nation, the overwhelming majority of parents--across party lines, socioeconomic status, and beyond--are in favor of increasing educational options

No matter the fate of HB290 in Ohio or similar educational freedom legislation across the country, there is little doubt that educational options will continue to spark conversation as our world continues to change. 

[Editor's Note: This blog post contains excerpts from the "Navigating Your Child's Education: A Podcast for Parents" episode entitled "Moving Toward Greater Educational Freedom." This conversation features Troy McIntosh, Executive Director of the Ohio Christian Education Network. Make sure to hear the full episode here.]

Worthington Christian School
Written by Worthington Christian School

Founded in 1973, Worthington Christian School (WC) is central Ohio’s leader in Christian education offering a rigorous, college preparatory kindergarten to 12-grade academic program, dedicated to developing the mind of Christ in students through rigorous intellectual, creative, and physical pursuits.