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Who’s responsible for your children’s education?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Who is responsible for your children’s education? One hundred fifty years ago the answer would have been obvious, parents were responsible. Today, that answer is much more debatable.

Two years ago a Portland Public Schools board member proclaimed that parents’ responsibility for their children’s education ends when they are 5 years old. He said the parents role is over after they get their child to school.

Recently, a group of Washington state parents filed an injunction to stop a teachers strike in the Marysville school district. A union attorney said, “The parents have absolutely no standing to bring this lawsuit.” They “are not real parties in interest to any dispute between the Marysville School District and the Marysville Education Association.”

Public education was never meant to strip parents of their rights and responsibilities. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a landmark 1925 Oregon case, “The child is not the mere creature of the state.”

So, if parents are responsible, how can they exercise that responsibility? The most effective way would be to broadly expand school choice options. Let teachers unions strike, but also let parents take their children, and the money earmarked to educate them, to other schools.

Only when parents regain control over where their children go to school will they reassert their responsibility for their children’s education. That day can’t come too soon.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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