In the 21st century, a quality education is critical to being able to survive in the new economy. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the American economy will require some sort of post-secondary education, according to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. But if there is a lack of a quality education from the beginning, that systemic failure will lock too many people out of the new economy and our children will suffer.
No group would feel the pain of that lock out more than people of color. The black unemployment rate is consistently higher than white unemployment (and most of the time by 2 to 1) and studies show that traditional public education is becoming more unequal, not less. Parents with money have the means to move to better school districts or place their children in private or charter schools but the parents who need the option the most are often prevented from doing the same. That is immoral. If we know that a quality education is no longer an option but a necessity in America and we prevent the people who need it the most from obtaining it we are sentencing millions of people to a life of poverty.
School choice is providing low income parents with educational options for their children that they may not have otherwise had. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 76 percent of all students enrolled in charter schools are people of color, and 39 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Private Schools are having an impact as well, as 20 percent of all Catholic School students are people of color and over 10 percent of their students receive free lunch (according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).
Nontraditional schools are making a real difference, as Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found. According to their 2015 study, urban charter schools provide significantly higher levels of growth in both math and reading than their traditional public school peers. Also according to the study, “Learning gains for charter school students are larger by significant amounts for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and special education students in both math and reading.” Private school results are similar, as black and Hispanic children who attend Catholic schools are more likely to graduate from High school and college.
Too often the school choice debate is framed as some sort of attack against teachers when that is not the case. The most important thing should be what is best for the kids. All parents deserve the right to choose the best education for their children. Your zip code and your bank account should not be the determining factor to your child’s economic fate. Martin Luther King III said that school choice is “about justice; this is about righteousness. This is about freedom — the freedom to choose for your family and your child.”
Darvio Morrow is the CEO of FCB Entertainment, Inc and co-host of The Outlaws Radio Show on iHeartRadio.