It is imperative that Democrats support a free-market in education. This is truly the next stage in Civil Rights. Unlike the abhorrent comparisons that are often made to the Civil Rights movements of the 1960's, the attempt to offer parents more choice and responsibility in education truly is an heir to Dr. King's dream.
The government at all levels should get out of the education business, and enter the opportunity business. We as a people through our government should guarantee every citizen access to a quality school. The best and easiest way to do that is to allot a large enough voucher for each child to be used at the parents' discretion. The government should be careful not to limit choices unless there is demonstrated fraud or abuse. Public schools, Home-schools, church schools, political schools, etc. all would serve to meet parents' demand in a free market.
What makes the idea of vouchers a progressive and Democratic idea is that there would be a Universal guarantee. We need to divorce ourselves from the Teachers' unions and other groups who cling to the status quo. Instead we as democrats should allign ourselves with millions of individual parents who will make the best decisions for their child. Any problems can be dealt with in a contractual context rather than a govt. bureacracy. The mission of the Democratic Party should be to extend opportunity to everyone regardless of their birth status, and ensure an equal chance at success.