Good teachers, high academic standards, location and even the quality of extracurricular activities are all factors that go into choosing the right school.  But for some parents, violence is also a key factor in deciding where to send their child for a quality education.

Violence and crime have no place in an institution that exists to foster learning and creativity.  Sadly, this is not always the case as many of our country’s public schools suffer because of violence, crime and drug and alcohol abuse.  In fact, a recent study found that that 11.3 percent of Washington D.C. high school students reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the previous year–a rate well above the national average.

For some parents, the answer to escaping violent environments is choosing to send their children to another school where violence and safety is not interfering in a getting a quality education.

Unfortunately, some parents simply don’t have this option.

For some parents, particularly parents living in some of our country’s major cities where school violence is most pronounced, the nearest public school is the only viable option for their child to receive an education.

What’s more is that given the demographic composition of our nation’s biggest cities, minority families are most affected by a lack of school choice. However, the powerful education unions are bent on preventing greater school choice for parents and families because they fear competition from private and charter schools.  Special interest groups like the education unions are first and foremost concerned with looking out for the interests of their members. As retiring National Education Association General Counsel Bob Chanin articulated in this video.

Parents and families need options in deciding where to send their child to school.  Parents should not have to feel constrained by limitations of resources.  Here in our nation’s capital, there are thousands of families who are hoping that Congress restores and expands the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.  It has been a lifeline for many families by providing a $7,500 scholarship to thousands of students looking to escape D.C.’s failing and dangerous schools.  Unfortunately, entrenched special interests stand in strong opposition to seeing the resurrection of this popular and effective scholarship program providing a choice for parents.

Thankfully, advocates for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and all those who believe that school choice is about freedom and opportunity, have a strong ally in the new House of Representatives Speaker, The Honorable John Boehner.

The Speaker recently invited a number of DC children to attend the State of the Union to listen to President Obama as he talked about education.  Although education featured prominently in the president’s speech, greater school choice was missing from his prescription of what ails our failing and dangerous public school system.

As we head into the final stretch of “National School Choice Week,” let’s remember school choice goes beyond allowing parents to choose the school with the highest graduation rate; it also means a safe environment for a student to learn.

What parent doesn’t want to have the peace of mind that his or her child is safe in school?