School-free summers should be parent’s choice

It’s amazing how people can see a disagreement where it should never exist.

The debate of whether schools should be closed all summer is a fairly hot one in the education world. Advocates say that summers off give kids a chance to just be kids and experience life without the burden of school. Opponents say the summers-off policy is outdated and keeping us behind in world rankings for education.

Both sides have got it all wrong. The correct cure to this problem is the correct cure to nearly every problem in society: choice.

Imagine a world where a restaurant only served one thing all year long, had bad service and never improved. You would expect that restaurant to be closed soon because others would soon take its business. However, this is the kind of system that we have continued to allow in our public schools in America.

To argue for one type of school year is silly. Sure, I may like my summer off but maybe Johnny down the street doesn’t. Maybe Johnny would prefer to go to school year round but have shorter school days. Perhaps Jane wants to go to school for only half the year. More choice in the school system would give parents and children what they want in a school, not to mention academic improvements and better service.

You will not hear politicians, administrators of school systems or leaders of teachers’ unions make any suggestions like this. It’s not like people have the right to say how your child is educated. The American people are too stupid for that.

How do we get schools to give parents the choice of school years? The same way we get restaurants to serve good food: competition. Instead of having kids go to their home school or be forced to fill out paperwork to go to another school, let parents choose to have their children go wherever they wish. A voucher system where money is attached to students, not schools, would even allow less fortunate children to go to better schools or even private schools.

This is how schools are set up in most of Europe, such as in the Netherlands, with much success. Students in the Netherlands score higher than American students in basic tests.

This system has also worked in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Charter schools, which receive government money but are not run by the government, took over after Katrina hit. Test scores have shot up and graduation rates are rising.

Time and time again, competition works and gives people the variety they want. Let parents choose the school year they want for their children.

Michael Lauck is a sophomore broadcast journalism and economics major from Houston.