Avenues of Choice
K-12 education policy has become increasingly centralized and technocratic, while falling short of achieving policy objectives. Young people are generally maladjusted to the personal and professional challenges of contemporary life. Parents experience diminishing political influence over the form and substance of their children’s education. I argue that improvement of the quality of private education requires greater emphasis on local political dynamics. School choice offers a free market alternative to a public school system which has largely ceded decision making to avowedly apolitical bureaucrats. Ironically, politics remains essential for the formation and regulation of the very policies that enable the marketplace to thrive as in the case of the tax credit scholarship. The politics behind the marketplace is brought to light by examining the local political relationships required to establish and maintain the Illinois Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship (TCS), a school choice policy of unprecedented magnitude in Illinois. Furthermore, this research examines local dynamics among parents in the Archdiocese of Chicago, many of whom benefit from the aforementioned tax credit scholarships and manifest a variety of views on the teleological purpose of the parochial school. In a nation that is both diverse and increasingly polarized, successful governance of community schools depends upon discerning leaders and the practice of reinvigorated federalism.