When Is Pro-Choice Not Pro-Choice

By: Guest Authors

Written by: Bobby Penland

A woman can decide whether or not to have an abortion yet she cannot decide which publically funded school she wants her child to attend.

In 1973 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion placing no restrictions to the criteria a woman uses to arrive at this decision. The decision is hers and hers alone. She may consult with her family or her doctor before she makes the decision, however, she is not obligated to accept their recommendations. Consequently, she must live with her decision.

A woman is deciding whether or not to bring a child into this world. She is not necessarily deciding the fate of the child once it has been born. Circumstances may make it difficult for her to keep her child, such as rape, incest or financial difficulties. If she does not want to raise her child she may give her child up for adoption. If she decides to have an abortion the existence of the unborn child comes to an end. However, by giving the child up for adoption it gives the child an opportunity to become a respected member of society.

If she chooses to keep her child then her child will depend on her to make every decision with the possible exception of when it’s time to eat. The mother and/or father will decide where the child lives, what the child wears, what the child eats and who is authorized to spend time with the child. The mother and/or father will make virtually every decision on behalf of the child up until it is time to send their child to school.

Unless the child is home schooled or sent to a private school he or she will be required to attend the public school located in the school district where his or her parents live. A woman can decide whether or not to have an abortion yet she cannot decide which publically funded school she wants her child to attend. It does not matter how poor or controversial the public school is in her school district, she must send her child to that school unless she has a special waiver.

There is an alternative to sending children to the public school located within the parents home residence. This alternative is known as school vouchers. By giving parents school vouchers they will have the ability to send their child to the school of their choice. School vouchers are certificates issued by the government where parents apply the value of existing public education funds to the school of their choice. Parents decide where the public education funds for their child are spent instead of the government telling parents where their child must attend school.

There are differing opinions as to whether or not school vouchers will improve a child’s education. It is ironic that political establishments that favor pro-choice generally do not favor a parent’s right to choose the school that their child can attend and political establishments that favor pro-life generally do favor a parent’s right to choose the school that their child can attend.
How is it that someone can be for giving a woman freedom of choice when it comes to whether or not to abort the child she is carrying and not be for giving a woman freedom of choice when it comes to choosing which school her child can attend? What is it about parents choosing schools that seems to be more threatening to some people in our society than a mother choosing whether or not to have an abortion? Are they afraid that parents are not qualified to select the proper school for their child or do they feel the government is better equipped to make decisions regarding a child’s education? If our current school system is failing our children then should we revamp the current school system?

Will school vouchers destroy our public school system or will school vouchers provide a better alternative? Why should government dictate which public school a child must attend when there may be a better alternative? If parents pull their children out of poor performing schools and place them in better performing schools then the poor performing school may be in danger of closing. Why would it be a catastrophe to close poor performing schools? More seats may be needed in better performing schools but isn’t the objective to provide a better education for our children?

The number of open seats currently available in better performing schools is limited and the initial movement to these better performing schools will be restricted. A fair selection system will be required to allow for equal opportunities for parents wishing to send their children to these schools. The movement created from allowing parents to choose schools will eventually create a system of ‘private’, ‘preference’ and ‘performance’ schools.

Parents with money will continue to send their children to ‘private’ schools. Just because some parents can afford to send their children to ‘private’ schools does not mean the education system is broken. ‘Private’ schools should not be viewed as negative, the objective of school vouchers is to achieve a quality education for all children by giving parents the power to choose the school that is best for our child.

As students vacate poorer performing schools in favor of better performing schools the poorer performing schools will have to improve or risk eventually being shut down. Newer schools will arise in their place. Eventually the newer schools will be centered around student ‘preferences’. For example, a student interested in dance can select a school tailored around this interest. This will allow for a more efficient use of money spent on education where a dance studio may be the student’s ‘preference’. There will be no need to invest in areas such as athletic equipment for this style of school. All schools will still have to provide the basic core education of reading, writing and arithmetic.

The consolidation of school vouchers will give these new ‘preference’ based schools operating income to survive. Students interested in math and science can choose a school tailored around their interest, the same for students interested in computer graphics and so forth. Parents may not need to pay for private lessons to develop their child’s interest. Should the interest of the child change then the parent can send their child to another school tailored around the child’s change in interest.

Schools for gifted children will emerge where the criteria for admission to these schools will be based on the students achievements. These ‘performance’ based schools will be tougher to get into and will teach at an accelerated pace when compared to other schools. There will be no ceiling on the learning potential of students. These ‘best of the best’ schools will attract the best dancers, the best mathematicians, the best computer programmers and so forth. These ‘performance’ based schools will provide students an avenue to excel.

Schools must still be held to academic standards during the transformation of the school system. The process will not happen overnight just as it takes time for a caterpillar to change into a butterfly. There will be growing pains, but how can the school system be improved by sitting still? School vouchers could reshape the school system in a way that allows students to follow their interests and interested students will more likely remain in school.

The school that best fits a child’s interest may not be conveniently located next to the parents home. Parents, however, could still make the extra sacrifice of traveling a bit further to a school of choice in order to provide a better education for their child. Parents should also be kept abreast of their child’s development. Just handing a school a voucher is no guarantee that the school is providing the quality of education it advertises.

If the government places more control of education quality and accountability into the hands of parents the education system will improve. When schools have to measure up to parents criteria and not the governments there will be a rise in the quality of education because most parents will choose according to quality and not convenience. Let a parent find out that a daycare is not measuring up to their standards and see how quickly their child is placed in another daycare. The same standard should apply to our education system.

The question should not be if school vouchers will work but rather how do we make them work. Parents and students should have the same flexibility in choosing a grade school or high school as they do in deciding which daycare or college to attend. Aren’t our public education funds our money and not the governments. Why shouldn’t parents and children have an influence on how our education system is structured?

Additional articles that I have written can be found at

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