Today marks the conclusion of this year’s National School Choice Week, an annual public awareness campaign designed to highlight the power of choice when it comes to reforming our K-12 education system. 

A good primary and secondary education is a cornerstone of the American Dream: it prepares us for economic and personal success and facilitates our pursuit of happiness. But too often the history of America’s public school system has been a story of dashed hopes, deferred dreams, and unfulfilled promises.

Millions of low-income families who are stuck in underperforming schools have no way out and no way to choose something better. These families are not just let down by our nation’s dysfunctional education policy – they are trapped by it.

The problem facing our public school system today is not about a lack of money – we have nearly tripled government expenditures on elementary and secondary students since 1970. The problem is an outdated and inflexible government policy that leaves parents powerless to influence the quality of their child’s education.

This cannot be solved simply by growing or cutting budgets. Instead, we must repair the structural flaws in the system by empowering the people most acutely committed to improving the quality of our schools: America’s moms and dads. Giving parents more power to invest in their children’s education and to choose what school best meets their needs is the best way to restore accountability to our public education system.

Reflecting this truth and building on the successes of the school choice movement across the country are several promising bills recently introduced in the Senate, including the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act, the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, and the Scholarships for Kids Act.

Providing a solid education for the next generation is, as Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”

Policymakers should aim, as he did, “to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, society, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present.”