School Choice Advocate Corey DeAngelis on ‘The Parent Revolution’

“The problem isn’t necessarily the curriculum per se,” says DeAngelis. “It’s being stuck in a one-size-fits-all system that, by definition, is never going to work.”

By Published on May 22, 2024

With Alabama’s passage of universal school choice legislation earlier this year, 11 states now enable all or most K-12 students to access a portion of state-allocated education funding to use toward their preferred educational setting. In fact, EdChoice reports that more than one-third of the entire U.S. K-12 population — over 20 million students — is or will soon be eligible for a private school choice program.

A key catalyst for the expansion of school choice has been the work of Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children and author of the new book The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools.

Promoting Education Choice for Families

Credited with coining the phrase “fund students, not systems,” DeAngelis has long been a school choice advocate; but the school closures and prolonged remote schooling in the wake of Covid supercharged both his influence and impact in promoting education choice for families.

“We didn’t see as much momentum over the past three decades as we saw in the past three years alone,” said DeAngelis about the growth in school choice programs since 2021. Indeed, no states had universal or near-universal choice until then, and support for school choice policies continues to grow.

I spoke with DeAngelis about his new book on today’s LiberatED podcast episode, where he explains more about the rise of parent empowerment and choice. “At the end of the day, parents know their kids’ education needs more than bureaucrats sitting in offices hundreds of miles away. Parents have more of an incentive to get the decision right for their own kids than politicians and bureaucrats. We should let them decide,” said DeAngelis.

A Political Tug-of-War

Over the last several years, we have witnessed heated culture wars playing out in school board meetings and state legislatures across the country, with a political tug-of-war between those who want certain content or curriculum taught in public schools and those who don’t want that content or curriculum taught in those schools. It creates an inevitable battle of wills with winners and losers. We all have different values and preferences, and these inevitably lead to conflicts around public schools, since everyone is fighting to get their favored values and preferences represented.

This conflict is particularly evident in the Public Schooling Battle Map maintained by Neal McCluskey at the Cato Institute, where DeAngelis and I are both adjunct scholars.

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“School choice is the better solution,” said DeAngelis regarding these state and local battles over school curriculum and content. “The problem isn’t necessarily the curriculum per se. It’s being stuck in a one-size-fits-all system that, by definition, is never going to work. It’s never going to meet the needs of individual families who just disagree about how they want to raise their children.”

Fortunately, more families in more places now have the opportunity to choose a school or setting that is aligned with their individual needs, preferences, and ideologies. School choice policies are helping to accelerate these options, but entrepreneurial parents and teachers across the U.S. — including in states without school choice policies — are creating an assortment of innovative, affordable schools and spaces from which families can choose.

When it comes to school choice policies, creeping government regulation is always a concern, potentially limiting the types of schools that can exist or what they can teach. But DeAngelis is optimistic that the greater the number and diversity of families who are benefiting from school choice policies, the less likely it will be that politicians will restrict those choices: “If you have families benefiting in large numbers, creating a broader coalition across the ideological spectrum in favor of school choice programs, then they’ll be much more likely to be able to fight against people in office who want to take away your liberties.”

 

Kerry McDonald is a senior education fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and host of the weekly LiberatED podcast. She is also the author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019), an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, education policy fellow at State Policy Network, and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University.

Originally published at FEE.org under a CC BY 4.0 license.

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