My Point of View: What are Democrats really doing when they oppose school choice?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

My Point of View by Brad Kramer

As COVID started, my wife and I decided to homeschool our children. Many families made the same decision as we saw a record number of families pull their children out of public schools to homeschool and take ownership of their children’s education.

Brad Kramer

At a recent homeschooling conference, I sat on a panel with other fathers who answered questions about homeschooling from a father’s perspective. Nobody on the panel struck me as being particularly wealthy (financially speaking) with any substantial level of “privilege.” We were all working-class dads (and a grandpa). Among the challenges to homeschooling discussed included the cost. Sending your children to public school costs little. Homeschooling takes money because, while you can do many things for free, the books, experiments, field trips, curriculums and other materials all cost money. Not a lot, but it does have costs, especially if one parent chooses to give up their income to educate their children, which is a reality for many families. It’s never an easy commitment to homeschool.

Email newsletter signup

We are part of the Venture Upward program, which is organized so when you enroll, Venture Upward gets your child’s allotment of the public-school dollars, and you are allowed to use those funds to purchase school materials, which must be approved by Venture Upward to meet the requirements of public-school funding. We’ve used that money for a 3-D printer so our kids could learn about immerging technology, a laminator, books and other important supplies.

In Minnesota, when you homeschool, you’d typically incur all the expenses, and all the tax dollars that follow your child(ren) continue to go to their school district, per the Democratic-backed laws. That makes absolutely no sense. It is the opposite of how anything in a free-market economy works.

Homeschooling is about equity.

No matter what school district someone belongs to, they can educate their children themselves. You are not required to have a compelling reason, as they are your children. We didn’t have to ask our school district’s permission. If you don’t feel your children are getting a solid education, if you’re concerned about school violence (especially since Democrats destroyed the safety of schools with their legislation against school resource officers, as Robert Hoffman wrote about in the previous GOP column), if you don’t want your child taught about made-up genders, if you want a faith-based education or even if you just want to travel the world and raise your children from an RV or sailboat while exploring the world, that is your prerogative. God gave parents the right and obligation to educate our children — not the school district or the state.

When Democrats demand that all funding goes straight to the public schools; when they insist that no other educational entity (including you) get your child’s tax dollars; when they try to put up barriers to homeschooling, charter schools and other free-market options, this is what they are really saying: Democrats don’t care about your children’s outcome…your child has an earmark with dollar signs and teachers unions want it…only government knows how to educate…the money is for a buildings and institutions, not an education…if you are poor and want to homeschool, good luck trying to afford what you need because your local school district should get your child’s educational allotment, so figure it out on your own. If a school district is not educating our children to the level we expect, and you want to take your child elsewhere, Democrats want to make the process as difficult as possible while the public school still gets their money. Democrats even tried to pass legislation mandating homeschool families teach racist critical race theory. This directly impedes true equity.

Homeschooling lobbyists are always fighting Democrat-led legislation aimed at making homeschooling difficult. If Democrats had their way, homeschooling would not be legal.

The point of this column is not “public school bad, homeschool good” or that the GOP has a position on which school is better. Rather, Republicans back parent’s rights! You have the right to choose for your children, based on your values, your child’s needs and your rights as a parent. The last I checked, the school systems existed to provide education for children, not as a job-creation and tax-spending department.

There are many wonderful teachers in the public education system who put the needs of their students first and use their own money to buy supplies. Many teachers, like Rep. Peggy Bennett (who spent her career as a teacher), care deeply about students. Those teachers have our gratitude and appreciation. However, locking children into a school that is failing them is the opposite of equity.

It is time we stopped begging government for permission. Government is not your daddy, not your master and not your god. Your family’s health care, education, food supply and other decisions are yours. Republicans stand for limited government.

Brad Kramer is a member of the Freeborn County GOP Party.