Empowering parents with choices in education
By Senator Patrick Colbeck
Jan. 29, 2013
The week of Jan. 27 through Feb. 3 has been designated as National School Choice Week to spotlight the importance of providing parents with education options for their kids. For too many years, Michigan had a one-size-fits-all approach to education, dictated by the government. We now have a public education system in our state that offers multiple education delivery options to parents.
Did you know that there are a dozen public school options in the state of Michigan? The most prevalent options are Local Education Agencies (traditional public schools), Public School Academies (charter schools), and Online Charter Academies (cyber schools). More choice results in competition that benefits all of our public education customers – our parents and their kids – whether they choose traditional public schools or newer options.
During this past legislative session, Michigan has made great strides in lifting barriers that would otherwise prevent parents from being able to take advantage of these choices. We expanded educational opportunities for students to in turn create a more educated workforce. These changes include eliminating the cap on charter schools, raising the cap on cyber schools and facilitating dual enrollment in community colleges.
Choice breeds innovation. A case in point is online education. Online education, whether provided in a traditional setting or as part of a cyber school, opens the door to exciting and very effective learning opportunities. I encourage you to check out the work of education innovator Sugata Mitra. Professor Mitra has demonstrated how quickly students from all socioeconomic backgrounds can learn complex concepts quickly when provided with clear objectives, simple tools and good old-fashioned encouragement.
Many in the education community share my desire for more parental involvement in the education of their kids. One of the best ways to engage parents is to start by giving them a simple choice as to where to send their kids to school.
Monopolies have consistently demonstrated that they lower quality and increase price. Monopolies in education are no different. We need to continue to empower our parents with more education options. When it comes to navigating their children’s educational path, parents-not government-should be in the driver seat.
The 7th Senate District includes the cities of Belleville, Flat Rock, Gibraltar, Northville (part), Plymouth, Rockwood, Trenton and Woodhaven; and the townships of Brownstown, Canton, Grosse Ile, Huron, Northville, Plymouth, Sumpter and Van Buren.