| May 29, 2012

Romney embraces school choice

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney took a major step forward in support of personal liberty last week when he announced his endorsement of some forms of school choice. Romney said, “As President, I will give the parents of every low-income and special-needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school.” (Oklahoma, of course, already has school choice for some low-income students and for special-needs students.)

According to Romney, we are in the midst of a national education emergency. This emergency has taken a back seat to the current economic crisis, but nevertheless demands as much attention. Romney’s solution is to first expand parental choice in education. He touted the success of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, which has seen solid, verified results. Participating students graduate at rates above 90 percent, well above their peers in public schools who graduate at a rate of 55 percent. The program also saves a significant amount of taxpayer dollars: each scholarship is worth about half the $18,000 that D.C. typically spends to educate students in public schools.

Romney’s endorsement of school choice shows just how mainstream the issue has become in the education-reform conversation. The fight for school choice will be a long and difficult battle, but endorsements like Romney’s offer a glimpse of hope that limited government and freedom of choice will eventually rule the day.

OCPA intern James Hall (B.S. in economics, Oklahoma State University) is a law student at the University of Virginia.

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