CITIZEN: We Can Unite Around Educational Freedom.

GUEST EDITORIAL: We must commit to educating our children. Both sides of the political chasm recognize we need a change...

In Proverbs 22:6, God instructs us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is more than a suggestion; it is a command to Christian parents and guardians. We have the responsibility to oversee our children’s education. This is why many families have opted to homeschool their children or enroll them in private programs in light of numerous recent public school controversies.

These well-documented controversies span public education: staffing shortages, teacher and parent disrespect; violent, unaccountable students; sexual predators; unmanageable class sizes; sexualization of children through pornography in school and classroom libraries; bathroom safety issues; and lowered (sometimes non-existent) academic and behavioral standards; historically low ACT and NAEP scores; and transportation failures. Add the ever-increasing administrative bloat and salaries while schools are understaffed to unsafe levels and KDE’s pronoun guidelines, and it’s easy to understand why even the most ardent public school advocates have taken notice.

For instance, on August 15, 2023, USA Today featured an editorial by Jorge Elorza, CEO of Democrats for Education Reform. He wrote, “Democratic voters have been unequivocal in their support for (school) choice. Recent polling shows 73% of Democratic voters have a favorable opinion of public charter schools, and this strong level of support holds true across various demographics: Black people, Latinos, and parents.”

Even with the apparent demand for school choice across the U.S. and in Kentucky, the Commonwealth has ignored the voices urging change. Kentucky continues falling further behind other states that have listened to the diverse perspectives of voters. It’s not just Christian or conservative parents who want school choice. It is an expanding bipartisan cohort of people who wish to address the stranglehold of public schools on our children’s futures.

In December of 2022, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in favor of the teachers union rather than Kentucky citizens when it struck down House Bill 563, dubbed the Education Opportunity Account Act. We continue spending $15,067 per student in public schools, giving no help to parents wanting better outcomes.

Union leaders and some high-salaried school personnel blame parents for low test scores and challenging circumstances that schools are facing. However, when parents WANT responsibility for their children’s education, they refuse. Why? They claim they are responsible for educational outcomes! They argue it will “take away resources” from their sworn duty to educate our kids. Such a circular argument is flawed for many reasons, but its most egregious fallacy is the claim that their per-pupil expenditure would decrease. It would not—school choice would simply lower their enrollment.

Nonetheless, there is hope! We serve Jesus Christ, who loves and protects children (Matt 18:6). Prayerfully, Christians and churches can work obediently to follow Proverbs 22:6. There is no need to wait. First, we can open our homes, churches, and businesses to homeschool groups or start new school programs. Churches can view education as a ministry opportunity to reach families and fulfill the Great Commission.

Second, stakeholders can work with our legislators to bring about an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would secure educational freedom. Support is growing daily—even teachers recognize school choice as an opportunity to align their vocation and values. Teachers are the heroes that will make school choice a success in Kentucky.

Third, the results speak for themselves. Eventually, naysayers will have no viable arguments. Many states are expanding educational freedom. Places like Indiana, Louisiana, Arizona, and Wisconsin are changing. Florida is winning because it has advanced funding mechanisms, allowing more students access to tax credit scholarships, tuition tax credits, voucher programs, special needs programs, and education savings accounts. Florida’s school choice initiatives have helped 187,771 students. In comparison, Kentucky has supported zero students on school choice programs.

Ironically, in November 2023, the American Economic Journal published a study by Figlio, Hart, and Karbownik that concludes school choice competition improves outcomes in public schools by leading to higher test scores and decreases suspension rates, particularly for lower-income students.

We must unite and commit to educating our children. Too many on both sides of the political chasm recognize we need change. Let’s work together to secure educational freedom in Kentucky.

Written by Randy Adams, public school administrator turned freedom advocate

Randy Adams, a former Kentucky public school teacher and administrator, received our Salt & Light Award at the Kentucky Family Forum in recognition of his courageous advocacy for biblical values.

In September 2022, Randy refused to follow the Kentucky Department of Education’s guidelines instructing him to use student-requested pronouns without parental consent. This resulted in his suspension from work and a drawn-out battle for his religious liberty. Despite eventually returning to work, Randy and his wife (a teacher) decided to leave public education altogether and now serve in their local Christian school. Randy is now an active advocate for a brighter future in which parents, students, and teachers have educational freedom.

Through it all, Randy conducted himself in a manner worthy of the Gospel and exemplified Matthew 5:13-16’s recognition that we are the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. Randy’s desire to let his light shine before others was evident and his good deeds pointed many towards the Lord.

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