CITIZEN: Martin Cothran on Why school choice must be the path forward for Kentucky.

OPINION: Martin Cothran on the growing momentum for educational freedom in KY.

Martin Cothran is Senior Policy Analyst and Spokesperson for The Family Foundation.
Martin Cothran is Senior Policy Analyst and Spokesperson for The Family Foundation.

The COVID pandemic had plenty of bad consequences. But one of the good consequences was a new appreciation of the need for changes in how we educate our children. Parents finally saw, first hand, the kind and quality of education their children were experiencing, and many didn’t like it.

Education is one of the many things that doesn’t seem to benefit from being converted into a government bureaucracy. Like so many otherwise worthwhile endeavors, the education of our children has suffered from the top down approach to governing schools that has isolated many public schools from the natural accountability mechanisms that govern most important things in our lives.

And it isn’t only the quality and cost of local schools that have parents concerned, but the new and more toxic ideologies that have displaced traditional instruction in many classrooms. Education has now become the chief battlefield in political fights over race and gender. And because government bureaucracies inevitably lean left, Christian parents are forced to endure the indignity of not only being forced to endure the indoctrination of their children, but also having to pay for it.

Why is it that our public schools are so inefficient when it comes to academics, but so efficient when it comes to indoctrination?

While the issue of educational accountability has been an issue since the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, very little has been done to actually make schools more accountable to parents. And attempts to reform our schools have repeatedly been met by opposition from the state’s politically powerful educational establishment.

There had seldom ever been a camera in our classrooms. But when education went virtual during the pandemic, suddenly there were thousands of eyes on what our children were being taught. Parents were able to witness firsthand the quality of education their children were receiving.

The new post-pandemic awareness of the need for greater accountability has created new opportunities to make fundamental changes to the way we do education. There is a new awareness that the only way to reform education is through providing greater competition and more options for parents.

We acknowledge in all other areas of life that this is the way to improvement and reform. School choice has made political gains in state after state around the country. But as in so many other things, Kentucky is pulling up the rear. Powerful teachers unions and well-funded establishment education organizations prowl the halls of Frankfort seeking good educational ideas to destroy. These groups have long histories and extravagant bank accounts. They have dictated education policy in Kentucky for longer than anyone can remember.

But that is slowly changing. A new and more conservative legislature is now considering bills that could allow educational freedom for Kentucky parents. And because of language in Kentucky’s constitution, this will require a constitutional amendment that must not only be passed by the state’s General Assembly, but ratified by the voters.

The vote to ratify is in the future, but the calls to your legislator need to be made now. Kentucky must move forward by providing families the freedom to choose the best education for their children.

By Martin Cothran – Spokesperson and Senior Policy Analyst for The Family Foundation. 

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