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National School Choice Week and the Growing Movement for True Educational Reform

By Keith A Fournier
February 2nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Parental (School) Choice is an idea whose time has come. It is a matter of true social justice, not what is masquerading as social justice in some circles these days. It is a civil rights issue, a matter of educational freedom and the means to true educational reform.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - January 27- February 3, 2013 is National School Choice Week in the United States of America. Around the Nation events are being held to call attention to this rapidly growing movement for true educational reform. This movement crosses political party, social and economic lines. 

Some who oppose school choice are entrenched in the current federalized educational bureaucracy and the culture which fuels it. However, increasingly people of every walk of life admit the obvious, our educational system is broken.  A growing number are supporting the school choice movement.

In loco parentis - a Latin phrase meaning in the place of, or on behalf of the parents - was the polestar of educational law for years. Now, it is replaced with a top down one size fits all federalized system which has substituted bureaucrats for parents.

The origins of what became the public school system began with families pooling resources in small community schools.  Now, parents and local communities have an increasingly smaller role in the educational process.

We need to reconsider our history to chart a path to true educational reform and educational freedom in the future.   

The current overly federalized approach to education in the United States is failing. Statistics and experience confirm the obvious. It is time for a change and parental (school) choice is the change needed. It means affirming again that Parents are the ones who should be able to make the choice of how to best extend their own teaching mission outside of the home.

The proper role of Federal, State or Local Government is to support the first government in the home. I believe we should use the phrase Parental Choice.  Schools do not make the decision, parents do - or at least they should be able to, no matter what their income.

I am not against government. I simply insist that we remember that government begins in the family. Any good governance must recognize the first government of the family and then follow the social principle called subsidiarity.  That principle reminds us that good government is bottom up, not top down, deferring first to the smallest governing unit; not usurping but empowering and helping families.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the educational mission is clear and helpful. In his apostolic exhortation on the family entitled "The Role of the Christian family in the Modern World" (Familiaris Consortio) Blessed Pope John Paul II affirmed the social and political role of the family and called for the development of a "family politics". Here is an insight:

"The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others."

In his "Letter to Families" the late Pope wrote "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents. They share their educational mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State. But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the Principle of Subsidiarity."

"This implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit. For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children; especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization."

"Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization."

Parental (School) Choice is an idea whose time has come. It is a matter of true social justice, not what is masquerading as social justice in some circles these days. It is a civil rights issue, a matter of educational freedom and the means to true educational reform.

The opposition of some who often control of the teachers unions to such educational reform shows how far some of these mediating associations have strayed from their primary role. They fail to defer to the first mediating institution of the family. 

Parental choice in education is right for our children, right for our parents and right for our Nation.

Men and women of vision are emerging at the State Level to lead this growing movement. I am honored to stand with and support one of these emerging leaders, E.W. Jackson. He is seeking the nomination of the Republican Party as Lieutenant Governor of my home State, the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I just received this Press Release from the Jackson campaign.

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Statement of E.W. Jackson on National School Choice Week

E.W. Jackson, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia released the following statement to join millions of Americans commemorating National School Choice Week on January 27 - Feb 3, 2013:

"The theme of my campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia is 'Let liberty Light the Way'. Parental Choice in education is a liberty issue and should be a fundamental civil right.

"Parents are the first and best teachers of their children. When they delegate to teachers the role of educating their children, they should not be forced to relinquish safety and educational quality.

"Statistics confirm what we already know: our educational system is broken. The current federal one-size-fits-all approach to education has failed miserably. It is time for parents to reclaim their rightful place in determining where and how their children will be educated. Public policy must affirm and support this parental right."

"As Lieutenant Governor of Virginia I will propose an amendment to the State Constitution to implement parental choice in the Commonwealth."

"The family is the first government and the first school house. We must allow liberty to light the way in Virginia by ensuring the freedom of parents to make educational choices for their children."

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