Select Page

School Choice is on the Move Thanks to Iowa

School Choice is on the Move Thanks to Iowa

Iowa is the first state to implement a statewide school choice program.  About time.

One of the best educational reforms is school choice. It has innumerable upsides for the education of our children and no downsides – unless you are among those who depend on the failing public school systems for profit, power, and prestige.

Some folks push back at my contention that the public school systems are failing.  They tend to ignore the horrific failure of the systems serving mostly minority students in segregated urban ghettoes.  But even the so-called “better schools” are failing to meet the needs of the students in terms of basic education – and cultural values.  

Students are not taught America’s unique civic history – and the concepts of governance as laid down by the Founders.  Instead, kids are being indoctrinated with anti-American values contrary to the wishes of their parents.  We are not passing on the positive values of American culture to the next generation.

The public school system is also failing to meet the challenges of the modern day in terms of basic disciplines.  American students are falling behind their counterparts in other nations – including such critical global adversaries as China.

The school choice concept has been around for more than 30 years.  It has had partial victories in terms of the creation of charter schools.   They are essentially public schools that are allowed to operate largely independently from the basic public school systems.  

Recognizing the need to address the seriously failing urban public schools, some of the major school boards have created “magnet schools” with higher standards – and better educational output.  But these have tended to be elitist schools – leaving the public schools without better students as role models.  In Chicago, the magnet school has become the haven for many white students from elitist families who would otherwise have to attend an inferior neighborhood public school or exclusive private schools.

We have seen the rise of parent anger over the curriculum and operation of their local schools throughout the nation.  There is concern that the “state” – through the public schools – is taking more control over the education and development of the children than the parents.  There is a legitimate concern that the education monopoly is teaching values contrary to those of the family at home – undermining parental preferences and authority.

All this can be resolved through real school choice – in which the money dedicated to education is funneled through the parents and students.  They can then select the educational institutions that meet their needs and desires.

It is appropriate that we financially support the education of our children.  It is not mandatory that it must be done by giving buildings and union demands a higher priority than parental desires and education, itself.  It is not productive to place a political agenda – whether it be left-wing woke principles or maintenance of an embedded political structure – ahead of the fundamental needs of the students.  And that is what is happening in too many of the public school systems.  Issues like abortion and gender-altering procedures are being provided to underage students without parental knowledge.

Under the current system, only parents of means can afford to send their children to non-public schools.  Low-income groups are financially trapped in failing and often dangerous schools, with high dropout rates.  They are literally the means of transferring taxpayer money to union pension funds and political war chests. 

There is a reason that the education lobby is among the largest in America – and among the greatest contributors to political parties – at least one party – and candidates.

Currently, the educational industry is in charge of education – not parents.  School choice reverses that reality.  Rather than run taxpayer money through the political system, the per-pupil subsidy is transferred to the parent to direct to the school of their choice – public, private, or parochial.

Rather than maintain a monopoly of education for the less advantaged, the public schools would be required to compete in the market of parents.  Parents would not have to fight their local school boards, but simply send their kids to more acceptable schools.  In order to survive, public schools would have to compete for students and respond to the desires of parents.  

Universal school choice would mean that students would be able to secure the best educational opportunities.  Parents – through the power of selection – would be able to secure the educational institutions that best represent their interests and values.

Opponents of school choice argue that such a program could violate the separation of Church and state with regard to parochial school.  Of course, that is nonsense.  The highly praised Pell Grants are nothing less than a school choice program at the College level.  Pell grant recipients can apply the money for tuition to such parochial schools as Notre Dame, Loyola, or DePaul universities.

The only losers under school choice systems are the teachers’ unions and the political establishments they generously support with taxpayer money laundered through the dues and Political Action Committees (PACs).  Each student sitting in a public school is the source of the money from the state. 

The politician/union self-serving combine would collapse if the kids were not forced to remain in even the worst public schools without consideration of the quality of their education.

I have often stated my belief that the cynical maintenance of failing school systems for millions of mostly minority students is among the most immoral political acts of our times.  We have literally destroyed the potential of millions of children – condemning them to generational impoverishment and limited career advancement. 

We have left them in hopeless environments in which crime and drugs become the alternative career paths – blocking their access to America’s opportunity society.

Our duty as parents and a nation is to provide the best educational opportunities for our future generations regardless of race, gender, religion, or economic status.   School choice puts children first – ahead of teachers, administrators, unions, buildings, and especially politicians.

It is likely that other states will follow Iowa’s example and craft their own school choice legislation.  And that will be a good thing for students, parents, and America.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. frank stetson

    Not my area (can’t say field :>) of expertise, but in the spirt of Free Speech and contrasting veiwpoints (with actual facts):

    And FORBES says: “Six Reasons Why School Choice Won’t Save Us”

    From Larry’s hometown: “Another Chicago study found that students in the poorest neighborhoods were more likely than those in wealthier neighborhoods to opt for something other than their local school. But, while most traveled to schools that were better, 15% ended up in schools that were worse. Overall, the study found, the system of choice led to a higher concentration of struggling students in the default option: the neighborhood school.”


    Harvard says: “Studies Show School Choice Widens Inequality: Popular Among Parents, But Little Evidence that Children Learn More”


    The non-partisan Economist says: “School choice does not work as well as its advocates hope”


    Hard right wing National Review says: “Why School Choice Is Failing”

  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson. All the info you provided covers one issue — that taking the best and brightest out of failing public schools leaves a problem for those who remain. That, of course, presupposes that the public school remains a failing school. I would also say that if 85 percent wind up in a better school, that is a huge win for the kids education. If a public school failed to improve under the competition, it may well go out of business — with virtually all its students in a better educational system.

    Having been deeply involved in school choice for decades, many of the studies you cite are questionable and there are endless studies that suggest dramatically different outcomes. As usual, you selected a few out of thousands of studies — and opinion articles that are just opinions of the writers — to make your point.

    The important FACT is that millions of mostly minority children are currently being deprived an adequate education to go on to college and career-level employment. The union-based education lobby has offered no solutions to the problem. They opposition is based on union power and money and the defense and profit of the Democrat machines who run the worse school in America. Yes, Democrats run the worse schools in America — and that is a fact no matter if you blame them or not. I do.

    • Frank stetson

      Except all I did was provide the first reasonable contrasting views views from google. Reasonable as defined by not being overly partisan on their cover..

      There’s no as usual about it, that’s your personal peccadillo. .

      Like I said, not my area of expertise and interest

      Good responses, looks like you’ve got them convinced. .

  3. JoeyP

    SCHOOL choice is a MUST to get AWAY from Indoctrination, ESPECIALLY from the cursed CRT.

  4. Dwayne Oxford