Thursday, May 7, 2009

Real School Choice vs inter-district transfers

A way around the DC vouchers impasse is proposed. The Democrats in Congress and Obama administration cut funding for a voucher program to rescue kids from the failing DC school system. The DC public schools are extremely expensive (average cost of $14,000 per year), but have a terrible performance record. The author proposes inter-district transfer program, to bus DC kids to suburban school. Some comments on that:

"A public school transfer program would avoid the church/state and accountability questions raised by private school vouchers."

Such concerns are phony red herrings and it is lamentable to see them paraded as if they are valid concerns. They are NOT. The DC voucher program rescued children suffering from bad public schools. The Supreme Court has properly upheld voucher programs and as far as accountability - school choice INCREASES the accountability of schools significantly, as the New Zealand experience and many other examples can attest.

The fact that so many children might want inter-district transfers doesnt tell us that this is the best solution, but it does tell us there is a need. The underlying need is for parents and children to escape from bad schools and go to better schools. The fundamental solution to address that need is full school choice: Give parents and children the right to get their education from the school of THEIR choice, not your choice.

Why the fetish on making sure the teacher is a Government worker? Do we have such a fetish for college professors? Do we worry about food stamp recipients only shopping in Govt stores? So why the attachment to a Soviet-model for K-12 education ... when we have seen again and again that private schooling is superior for many kids?

Here in Texas, we have charter schools. Some have not worked out, but most do well, and on average are taking significant numbers of at-risk youth, outperforming the public schools, and doing it at 80% of cost of public school. The Charter schools are limited though. Our attempt to get our own child into Kindergarten failed because there were FOUR TIMES THE NUMBER OF APPLICANTS TO SPACES. and what was limiting those spaces? Texas law, with Teachers unions fighting hard to limit charter schools. It's absurd.

We need to stop with the lie that only some schools (govt schools) deserve funding, or only some kids (only the ones in worst schools) deserve to have choice. EVERY child deserves school choice. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Limiting their choice is limiting their future.

To be pro-school choice is to be pro-school-children.

"If conservatives opposed the program, they would suddenly become the cold-hearted opponents of giving low income kids a better education."

Oh, so this whole essay was about playing politics?!?
Rather than using kids as props to play some partisan trickery,
the better question is why the entire Democrat party seems to be cold-hearted opponents of giving low income kids a better education by opposing school choice in general.

Further comments:

"Both transfer and charter school models bring some more opportunity, but remain very limited in relinquishing real power to parents and families."
I'm not saying these choice systems should go away. They are definitely needed today. I guess my main point is that they do not go nearly far enough in fundamentally changing the way we deliver education."
"Neither model provides the kind of system change, and power reallocation, needed for transformation. "

I agree. Go ahead and do this inter-district transfer thing, but lets not pretend its the real answer. It's a band aid.
After all, someone in the inner city DC should not to have to send their kids over 12 miles and an hour-plus bus drive away to high school just to get a decent education.

If the DC public schools are doing an abysmal job (and they are), quit propping up and rewarding failure and abuse of kids. the entire school system should be dissolved and replaced with a voucher-based school choice system, and let each school be run by parents,teachers groups or other private organizations, and let them work to attract students by creating real learning in their schools.

The Century Foundation could lead the way by taking over some of the schools and using their best thoughts to run them. If the Foundation is not willing to pitch in, then they really are of no help.

No comments: