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July 17. 2011 6:54PM

Opting out: School choice the wrong way

After a Bedford family made national news by objecting to the assignment of a left-wing propaganda book as required reading in a high school personal finance course, Republicans sought a legislative solution. They proposed letting parents opt out of any course material they find objectionable. It was an overreaction.

House Bill 542 would have amended state law to “Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent’s or legal guardian’s determination that the material is objectionable.” Though that sounds appealing at first blush, it is so broad that it would make public education essentially an a la carte menu.

It is true that public schools are too inflexible and don’t allow enough choice. They would benefit greatly from the competition that comes from charter schools and vouchers. But this bill put the burden on each public school to create a curriculum catered to each family’s individual tastes. Schools would have to provide alternatives to any instruction a family opposed, and a family could oppose anything for any reason. That is neither workable, nor sensible.

Gov. John Lynch vetoed the bill last week. He was right to do so.


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