Fifty years of polling proves, unambiguously and overwhelmingly, that parents want school choice for their children. They haven't gotten it because the teachers' unions buy politicians who protect their public education system, inflated salaries, benefits and pensions.
Things may be changing.
Indiana, Louisiana, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Florida have recently all passed laws that give tuition vouchers to families and dramatically expand school choice. Similar programs are being considered in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Ohio and New Jersey.
The universal model of public education, until the past few years, has confined kids to the public schools in the geographic districts where they live. That confinement is independent of school quality (or lack thereof) and there is no way out - no matter how bad the fit between kids' needs and their school.
The Northeast Kingdom certainly knows the value of school choice. Two of New England's best schools, St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute, are right here and have educated generations of kids. They overflow with students whose top-shelf educations are paid for by tuition voucher.
Though most Democrats and all teacher unions virulently oppose these vouchers, there is no downside to them. They drive competition which works the same in education as it does in every private enterprise. You serve your customers or you go out of business.
Independent schools typically provide a better education than their public school counterparts and they do it for far less money. It is axiomatic for independent schools that they must offer a product parents want at a price they can afford. Where public schools have to compete with independent schools they are being forced to improve.
It is no overstatement that the towns with choice and vouchers in Vermont wouldn't give them up for anything, and any politician who seriously threatens to take these two things away might as well kiss his political future goodbye.
School choice, vouchers, and competition are the public school wave of the future. It remains only for the politicians and entrenched professional administrators, teachers, and union leaders to lead, follow, or get out of the way.