SCHOOL CHOICE NOT A PANACEA

#education #PublicEducation #PrivateEducation #SchoolVouchers #CharterSchools
Advocates for school choice – that is, allowing parents the ability to choose where to send their children to school, vs. being forced to attend their neighborhood public school – have argued that putting the power in parents over how their children are educated will provide the best education results.
As parents, one could certainly argue that having the ability to choose schools is desirable. But how to give parents such choice has come under scrutiny.
Of course, for the well-to-do, choice has always been there. They have the resources to send their children to any school they want – public or private.
For the not-so-well-to-do, school choice has come in two forms: vouchers and charter schools.
Vouchers are taxpayer-funded certificates that can be used to pay for private-school tuition. These vouchers deliberately siphon money from public schools that desperately need it. Remember, as discussed last week, education is compulsory in America. Private schools can pick and choose their students. Public schools, largely, cannot.
Charter schools are considered “public” schools, but operate with less regulation, as long as they can show performance. They are usually operated by non-profit organizations, away from the local Board of Education. These charter schools, which can also pick and choose students, have had a mixed record. Some have closed. Some have thrived.
New legislation on school vouchers has cropped up in Georgia, according to Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She discussed this in a March 26, 2019, column.
“The resurrected legislation, which now has a lower cap on the number of student who could used the vouchers – passed the Senate Education and Youth Committee … and may reach the Senate floor,” writes Downey, who points out that the legislation has the backing of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
The Georgia lawmakers point to success of vouchers in Indiana and Louisiana, even though neither state has seen big leaps in academic achievement as a result, Downey writes. Yet, she continues, Massachusetts, the nation’s highest-performing state for academics, excels by concentrating on improving teaching and curriculum, not by offering vouchers.
As for charter schools, USA Today reports that many charter schools have closed, while some states have not created a new charter school in years. The first charter school in Nevada is set to close in the spring. “In New Jersey, the charter system is making real estate investors rich,” as they use federal money to build school buildings to sell (to) the charter schools at a hefty profit, the article, also published March 29, 2019, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says.
We all WANT choice in education for our children. Sometimes, it’s just not practical. Sometimes, individual choice deprives the community of much needed resources. Students will have different levels of achievement in school, but no one wants some to have more opportunity to succeed than others.
The best solution is to make sure your community has good public schools, with appropriate funding to improve teaching and curriculum. Certainly, there should be private, or even charter, options for those students who may want to specialize in a tailored curriculum, or be educated among students with similar beliefs.
Remember, too, that no matter how much a student is educated, no matter their background, or which schools they attended, there are vehicles out there that will allow anyone the potential to really succeed financially. To check out one of the best such vehicles, message me.
We can tinker with education. We can offer gimmicks to make it seem as if we have some options. But there is no substitute for a good, well-funded public education system that EVERONE benefits from. It’s up to each community, and its residents, to make that a priority.
Peter

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