OPINION: Analyst Calls School Choice 'Most Critical Civil Rights Issue of Our Time'

From U.S. News & World Report:

It is the most critical civil rights issue of our time, an extension of Brown v. Board of Education, only today, at issue is the egregious separation of students from poor neighborhoods from students in wealthy neighborhoods.

The issue of which I speak is school choice, and I think you’ll be surprised to learn that, when we get down to the facts, Americans of every stripe imaginable can agree: choice is a good thing.

All of us want the best education possible for our children. Some of us have the means to live in neighborhoods with exceptional public schools. But so many Americans do not. According to the U.S. Department of Education, as of 2008 more than 1700 “dropout factories”–or high schools in which less than 60 percent of students graduate–exist. The students who drop out are overwhelmingly African-American and Latino. They are trapped in schools that, from early in their education, keep moving them from grade to grade without giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful adults.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama reminded Americans that education begins at home and that it’s a parent’s responsibility to instill a love of learning in their children as well as making sure “the TV is turned off and homework gets done.” This is absolutely true, but a parents’ ability to influence his or her child’s education cannot stop in the home.

As a nation, we have a moral obligation to make sure that all parents have the legal right to put their children in the school that believes that all children can learn and has a proven track record helping children thrive. If we don’t do this, we risk creating a permanent underclass of uneducated, unemployable Americans. This would be the end of American exceptionalism.

Read more: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2011/02/01/school-choice-is-the-most-critical-civil-rights-issue-of-our-time