Rees: Elections Come and Go, but Movements — Like School Choice — Endure

My first experience in school choice politics came in 1993. That year, Prop 174 asked California voters to decide whether parents should be given vouchers that they could redeem for their children’s education at the school of their choice. The proposition failed badly. Looking back, it probably should have. It was too expansive and not well structured. Most state leaders opposed it. But its defeat didn’t mean the end of school choice.

At around the same time, charter public schools were being introduced onto the education landscape. California had passed its charter school law the year before. Nearly a quarter-century later, charter schools and school choice have taken hold in California. According to the latest report on charter school enrollment from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Los Angeles has 156,000 students in charter schools — more than any other school district in the nation. Two other California districts have more than 30 percent of their students in charter schools.

The lesson here is simple: Elections offer temporary victories or defeats, but movements endure. School choice is right for students and parents. It’s a movement that won’t be stopped, even amid occasional setbacks.

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