Education of Choice

As we gear up for another school year, many are asking if the status quo is good enough--at least for our own offspring. "Choice" is sacrosanct these days. But important choices bring with them a baffling array of information and previously unknown (or ignored?) responsibilities. No decision is more daunting in this day of slumping academic performance, school violence, confused morality and trendy bureaucratic fix-it schemes than our children's education.

For much of our nation's history, perfunctory public education at a prescribed school was a given. Yet recently, alternatives like vouchers, charter schools and the new phenomenon of homeschooling have turned that assumption on its head. Doubts about academic performance, socialization and other concerns regarding these options have lately been addressed by empirical research. For example, nationally, homeschooled students average in the 80th percentile compared to their publicly educated peers and test several grades higher than their counterparts, according to Focus on the Family.

How do parents and others decide between public or private education or homeschooling? This issue is especially crucial when we realize that we have but one chance to "get it right" for each child. We discuss some of the educational, legal and philosophical issues--and even some practical suggestions--for choosing the best educational option and affecting change from the grassroots. Let us know what you think as you explore what interests you among Leadership U's thousands of resources...

—Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Feature Articles:

Reforming Education: A Whole New World
Chester E. Finn, Jr.
The author of this review essay considers several recent books that argue for a radical transformation of our educational system. Offers a broad overview of the issues at play in school reform and the alternatives, while assessing recent attempts to prop up the status quo.

Educational Opportunity
Don Closson
This paper presents arguments for greater choice in public education. Based on research done by John Chubb and Terry Moe, the author argues that greater autonomy is needed to have more effective schools. Also reveals popular myths regarding school choice.

Schooling Choices
Don Closson
Using the book Schooling Choices: An Examination of Private, Public and Home Education by Dr. Wayne House, this essay considers the arguments for each type of educational environment.

Christians Win Major School Voucher Case in Wisconsin Supreme Court
Christian Defense Fund
The Christian Defense Fund reports a landmark court decision that, if upheld, could open the door to vouchers for religious education nationwide.

School Choice 1999: What's Happening in the States
Nina Shokraii Rees and Sarah E. Youssef
Produced by the Domestic Policy Studies Dept. of the Heritage Foundation think tank, this "backgrounder" gives an account of the latest victories gained by school choice advocates nationwide, plus prospects for the future. Contains a map of states regarding their school choice laws.

Is Private Schooling Privatizing?
Christian Smith and David Sikkink
Two instructors in the Dept. of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill present findings that, despite popular bias to the contrary, privately schooled and homeschooled children are better socialized than their publicly schooled peers.

Rebels of the Best Kind
Joel Belz
Fresh from attending a homeschooler's convention, the commentator gives a heads-up to watch the influence of the homeschooling community. He predicts they will disproportionately affect societ--for the better. References extensive research on homeschooler's academic performance.

Related Articles:

Education: What Works
Don Closson
A view of what works best both in the classroom and at home to help students to become confident learners.

The National Education Association
Don Closson
An overview of the positions, power, and activities of the National Education Association. Helpful section on what parents can do to help affect change.

Rousseau: An Interesting Madman
Don Closson
The theology of Jean Jacques Rousseau continues to have a shaping effect on education. His asssumptions, among which is denial of man's fallen nature, need to be examined in light of school choice decisions.

Criteria for Christian Appreciation of the Arts
Lance Box
Proposes eight broad guidelines that can assist in the task of teaching the Arts in a Christian school. The guidelines could be equally helpful in choosing literature for study, analyzing poetry or considering works of fine Art, dance and drama.

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