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  • Morning Bell: School Choice Is the New Normal

    Finding effective solutions to our nation’s education problems is one of the most pressing issues facing America today. Many children lack quality educational options and are too often relegated to attending low-performing schools. A lack of educational choice is a reality for thousands of low- and middle-income children across the country and is a major factor in our nation’s mediocre academic achievement levels. But thankfully, 2011 has marked a turning-point for school choice, with a growing number of states implementing options such as vouchers, tuition tax credit programs, online learning and other innovative school choice options – that offer a better alternative for America’s children.

    School choice, which saves taxpayers money and simultaneously offers children a higher quality education, is sweeping the nation. And it’s an idea whose time has come. Instead of funding school buildings, the philosophy behind school choice says we should fund students instead and allow education dollars to follow a child to the school of his or her choice.

    In places like Washington, D.C., where the now-revived D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is providing low-income children with vouchers to attend a private school of their choice, dramatic results have been achieved. These children, who once attended the poorest-performing public schools in the country, are thriving in schools chosen by their parents – not assigned based on their zip code. Academic achievement has risen, and impressively, students who received a voucher and used it to attend private schools of their choice had a 91 percent graduation rate.

    The latest state to consider providing more school choice options for families is Pennsylvania, where state senator Lloyd K. Smucker (R) is sponsoring a bill to increase the Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarship program to $100 million. Smucker aims to offer more low-income students in the state a chance at private schooling.

    The Lancaster Online reports:

    Competition drives up quality service, and education shouldn’t be exempt,” [Smucker] said.

    In response to those who believe school vouchers will harm public education funding, Smucker said public schools still will keep their local and federal reimbursements. Only the state portion for qualified children would go to parents.

    Because the public school would no longer have to educate that child, its average revenue per student actually goes up, Smucker said.

    School choice proposals are gaining bipartisan support across the country. More than two dozen states considered school choice legislation this year with 16 special needs school choice bills considered this legislative cycle alone.

    Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) kicked things off this year when he was elected Speaker of the House. In one of his first acts of the 112th Congress, he chose to restore and expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program – which was placed on life support by the last Congress. Now, low-income children in the District (one of the worst-ranked public school systems in America), have a chance at a quality education. From there, things took off.

    Arizona enacted a groundbreaking Education Savings Account program providing parents with special-needs children options for private schooling. Parents in Arizona can now receive 85 percent of the state per-pupil funding in an ESA and can use that money to pay for private school tuition.

    Wisconsin successfully broke the union stranglehold on public education and expanded the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which provides vouchers to low-income children in the city to attend a private school of their choice.  Indiana passed what will be the most expansive school voucher program in the country, which will provide, when it is fully enacted, an estimated  600,000 children the opportunity to attend private school that better meets their needs. And Oklahoma has followed suit, enacting a tuition tax credit program for businesses that choose to contribute to scholarship-granting organizations, which in turn provide vouchers to low-income children.

    As Heritage education policy analyst Lindsey Burke writes:

    Indeed, this is the new normal: we are now taken aback by the states that haven’t implemented some sort of school choice option for families, whether its tuition tax credits, vouchers or online learning.

    And with every state vying to outpace the next in providing educational opportunities for children, it’s hard to keep up with the proliferation of opportunities.

    And yet, education special interest groups – teachers’ unions – are dead set against such options for children and the state as a whole. They consistently lobby to stop the school choice movement in its tracks, because they know it poses a threat to their power. But the union stranglehold over education is beginning to crumble – thanks to efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere – and policies that are in the best interests of children – not adults – are being pursued.

    Every student in America deserves a chance at a first rate education. State leaders across the country should look to the states who have already moved to empower parents with educational options. Those who opt out of the school choice revolution will do a disservice to their students and be left lagging desperately behind.

    Quick Hits:

    http://www.morningbell.org
    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    54 Responses to Morning Bell: School Choice Is the New Normal

    1. John Shook, Lithia S says:

      The only way to improve education is to dissolve the NEA in Washington. We had good education until the government thought they could do better. Now what do we have—it's obvious, a system in dissaray ran by idiots in Washington.

    2. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      5 – 27 – 11 FROM – Ken Jarvis – LVKen7@Gmail.com

      School Choice –

      Should be –

      Improve ALL public Schools.

      Public schools Will get BETTER.

      Our side believes –

      THINGS WILL GET BETTER.

      That is the American Way.

    3. Robert, North Richla says:

      Real school choice will never happen until we remove the federal government from education, completely. Abolish the Department of Education (a complete failure) and let the states really compete. Any transfer of power back to the states MUST be accompanied by reductions in federal taxes, so states can access those revenues at the level of their choosing. Unfunded federal mandates are killing us and these mandates have been the rule of the day since 1988. The Senate's Balanced Budget Amendment does NOT address federal mandates.

    4. Dan Olivier, SE Loui says:

      My only concern is that the FED will push for more control and curriculum changes if FED dollars are being brought into private schools.

      Both of my sons completed their education in private schools and I'll be the first to say that it was well worth the money spent on tuition. Both earned full scholarships, both were athletes, and look to become very successful both in their careers and family life.

      But in most private (parochial at least) schools there is a waiting list. How is this going to be dealt with? Will the FED step in and make the private schools accept low income students with vouchers over their own students, whose parents have supported these schools for many years?

      Now if new private schools are built to accommodate these vouchers then it might be a good deal, IF the FED is kept out!

    5. Frank, Cat Spring, T says:

      Incompetent individuals posing as "teachers" need to be removed from the public school system. That would improve public education for everyone. Teachers unions should be done away with across the board. They only exist to keep those looking for a soft permanent job empolyed. Children receiving poor education is only the fault of those who are supposed to be teaching.

    6. KC - New Mexico says:

      Providing alternative school choice is critical if we are to improve overall education in America. I would urge HF readers to rent and watch “Waiting for Superman”. Alternative and charter schools offer a change in learning environment that meets the specific needs of many students. The unfortunate issue with alternative and charter schools is the lack of support by existing public school systems.

      Three significant changes are also needed in addition to alternative school choice. 1 – Get rid of most of the SDE and staff and allow the states to determine what will be provided for education. The SDE should only provide what the minimal education requirements are for each state. 2 – Abolish AFT and NEA unions as well as the administrators union and maintenance/clerical unions regarding public education. The unions do not contribute but do hinder the overall outcome. The good and great teachers do not need representation! Fire the workers at all levels that are not effective. 3 – Establish a new set of standards that must be met for students in all states, in all income levels. Increase the school day and year, add progressive education in middle and high schools. Focus on reading, writing, and math in elementary schools. Increase the discipline standards that must be met. Require parental participation at all levels.

    7. Ted Garrison - Ormon says:

      There are two related things that would significantly improve our education system.

      First, we need to make education fun. As professional speaker if I can't hold my audiences attention they will never hear what I have to say. It's no different in school yet I hear from professors all the time that attempt to make education fun and are ridiculed by their peers. One professor told me just asks his critics how many students do you have in your class – I have standing room only. If we want students to learn – it has to be fun and interesting. No one learns when they are bored.

      The second issue is to understand everyone is not equal. We want more scientists and engineers – well we need to make it fun for them. We need to challenge them. Except the fact that probably only a limited number of students are great math and science students. I remember in my four semester of advanced mathematics in college – the professor at this point you no longer need to be a good math student, but a great math student. This applies to all courses of study. To make it exciting we need to let students go at their own pace and push them – not hold them back. When we make students sit through class after class of material they already know – no wonder they are bored. They tune out. If we want students to grow we need to challenge them. The potential of our students are incredible – we just need to get out of their way.

      Of course some schools do this already. But all schools need to do this. One way to reduce college costs is having students come in with a significant number of college credits out of high school. That didn't exist when I went to college, but had more calculus in high school then some people did with a college degree even those that required calculus. When students are challenged they enjoy the work – when they are bored they tune out. We need to recognize that not all students are the same. The system needs flexibility – because someone who can score an 800 on his or her math college boards may struggle with English or a foreign language. The idea that one size fits all is upsurd.

      Finally, we need to encourage students to think – we need to give up the concept of coloring inside the lines. When they graduate we except them to innovative, yet all during school we except them to stifle their creativity. Programs that do this are some of the most successful. We see it all the time where a college graduate drops out and makes a fortune with a new invention, yet the system wouldn't him or her express themselves. They become frustrated and quit. We need to encourage that.

      It's been said that a group is the smarter than the smartest person in the room – professors and teachers need to remember that. Their students might have a good idea or two that they don't have. We need to encourage those discussions. Of course, many of the students ideas will not bear fruit – but innovation comes from exploration – not the guarantee that every idea is right.

    8. rosemarie douglass says:

      DO AWAY WITH THE TEACHERS UNION

      YOU DONT LEARN A THING IN THE USA , JUST GARBAGE ,

      THE TEACHERS SHOUILD NOT HAVE THE PEWER TO DO AS THE LIKE

      CHILDERN IN THE USA ARE FAR FAR BEHIND , TEACHE THEM THE COSTITUTION AND AMERICAN HISTORY , READ AND WRITHE ,NOT THE GARBAGE THE HEAR NOW

      MAN THE CHILDREN ARE JUST MANIOULATED AND BRAIN WASHED ,

      MY JOUNG COUSIN FROM EUROPA RAN CIRCLES AROUND A SO KALED COLLEGE GRAD , I THOUGTH IT WAS FUNNY

    9. Mary............WI says:

      I'm all for school choice. Union teachers, at least 80%, don't appear dedicated enough to make a difference in a child's learning years. I have friends with children in schools of their choice that are excelling this year as opposed to failing last year in public schools.

    10. Ben C., Ann Arbor, M says:

      To continue from yesterday –

      If Obamacare is allowed to stand the implications are far greater than some realize. Consider this: the federal government is in charge of our health care to which we pay a fee. The healthy self reliant people contribute to the health care of the obese and otherwise unhealthy. Is this fair? What if the Federal Government legislates, either directly or indirectly, what can be offered in school systems to affect the weight of our children. Childhood obesity is a problem, you know. Physical fitness is lacking in the United States. What if the federal government mandated that we must ride our bicycles to work, and purchase gym memberships to exercise regularly? Of course this would reduce our foreign oil dependence and would be good for the environment – right? The possibilities are endless – all in the name of government controlled health care. It has already started with the strings attached to federal education funds.

      Just as the “interstate commerce clause” has been usurped so will be our personal freedoms under the label of “healthcare reform.”

      Think long and hard about what you ask for – you just might get it.

      Sorry, the above is a little off subject today – but I had to post it.

    11. Rick Cyngier, Brookl says:

      I believe Charter Schools have a place in our educational system. As a School Board member, who obviously has a vested interest in protecting the integrity of schools who perform well, as ours is in Excellent status by ODE. It doesn't make sense to have Charter Schools competing for the same students and do not offer anything unique or value added to the student or parents, and are not accountable to taxpayers as we are. We have seen Charter schools outperform schools, see the voucher program offer needed relief to parents in search of a good school for their children, but must be tempered by limited competition for dollars in this current environment. You are incorrect by stating that the states offset the loss of dollars that go to Charters, and Charters are not obligated to take ADA or special needs children. Let's compare apples to apples in the future when making your points, suggesting that there are flaws in both systems of education, which continue to teach children in batches from a model set up back in the early 1900's. Local control is an absolute, and intervention by states and Federal government, especially at the Judicial level, which impedes innovation in education.

    12. Eric, PA says:

      A great example of how School Choice strengthens public schools is an example that occured in Rochester,NY I think in the 1990's. The Wegman family (large grocery store chain owners) gave a gift of $25 million to the Catholic schools in Rochester. This gift helped this private school but also made the public schools much more competetive; and competition makes a better product.

      Indiana, were I was a teacher a long time ago, has had a little publicized school choice program, for the last few years, within the same county. The process was quite simple, parents provide transportation, and the tax dollars follow the child. The outcome has been that poorly preforming districts have had to either get better or smaller. Great schools like the one I worked in has a long waiting list of potential students, and has built more space to accomodate the new students.

      School choice cannot be just about low income students…although it is a starting place.

    13. Dwana Townsend, Harv says:

      In the New Orleans area most of us who can afford it have had to send our children to private schools. Today we are seeing several Charter schools opening which, in my opinion, will provide students of all economic backgrounds with more choices especially if you are one of those high achievers.

      I think schools should compete on the city level, state level and national level. The competition should be based upon pass/fail ratios, student participation in acedemic rallys and placement, the diversity of programs/clubs/instruction they offer, and the overall composite GPA of their student body. I also believe that Teachers should also compete individually with pass/fail rates, GPA of their students, creativeness, and shoud also compete city, state, and nationals.

      Student competion should be part of the equation as well. What programs do they participate in, community involvement, do they represent their school in acedemic games or sports programs?

      The top schools as well as teachers should recieve recognition from their city, state, and on the national level. I think the schools as well as teachers and students would work harder for the recognition especially if it is in the form of a monetary gift and some sort of plaque or trophy or letter of comendation from the President of the US.

      If the school staff, teachers, students fail to at least meet basic requirements then there should be some sort of review process to find out if some of the teachers might need additional training or the question "Should they be teaching" should be asked.

      For the individual students who seem to continue to struggle, other options should be provided such as student to student mentoring, maybe our schools should start teaching various trades, such as carpentry, mechanics, welding, hair styling/cosmetics. Not every student will be college bound, but we still need to give them a since of self worth and self esteem so they become productive members of society and not just become drop outs because the current system we have in place has failed them.

      The Unions should have limited bargaining abilities as well.

    14. Curt Krehbiel, Midla says:

      Public sector unions should be abolished. Good teachers should be rewarded and bad teachers dismissed. Unions prevent these actions. Too many students are being taught that government will take care of them and education is secondary. The existence of standardized tests has led only to teaching "tests" instead of educating students. Rote learning should not be used to replace cognitive thinking and learning."

    15. SLDIII - NH says:

      I do believe that a judge in legal process of Wisconsin has put a stop to taking away the bargaining rights. It's complex, and not as simple as turning off a light switch. A law maker in NH tried to insert a paragraph in a budget item that even the senate new it was bogus and stopped ir, Somebody will figure it out.

    16. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      I am a product of Catholic schools, so are the oldest 6 of my kids, the younger ones would be, but the school was too far away. I have aways paid taxes where we lived so I paid for public schools. I could never figure WHY? public schools spent 1 & 1/2 times the amount a private school did to educated a child, that is if you call it an education. I have friends that are teachers and friends that are Nuns/teachers, the difference in education is that the schools are required to teach things that do NOT help with the future and in CAtholic school you get taught the things you need to know to get through life, not just to pass the SOL test. It's a shame Penmanship is no longer taught, kids graduationg from HS do not know proper grammer, history or geography, and shame of shame most do not know anthing about Geo. Washington nor the REv. War. Let's put schools back in local gov't. and get rid of Unions that insist on keeping teachers that are not qualified.

    17. mae landauer, Rancho says:

      I wonder how CALIFORNIA stands in the school choice arena?

    18. mae landauer, Rancho says:

      Where does CALIFORNIA stand in the school choice arena?

    19. mae landauer, Rancho says:

      Where does California stand in the school choice area?

    20. Darryl Hofe, Lexingt says:

      'Waiting for Superman,' available on DVD, is a cogent description of the weakness of our pulic education system, focused upon poor urban areas, and the damaging effect it has upon children and families. While children in these areas deserve better, so do others in not so poor families and not so urban areas whose options for private school or better public schools are hampered by rising expenses, busing requirements and limited seats.

      School choice needs to proliferate so ALL parents and children are free. Removing funds from the DOEd. and distributing them to the states can help accompllish this and it cannot happen soon enough.

      My only preference to restrict choice is a requirement that ANY SCHOOL, PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, receiving these $$ include Citizenship classes centered upon the US Constitution in their curricula. The course should include an in depth study of the Constitution's history, its plain meaning, its intent and the citizens who created it and bled for it. I had that course in the 8th grade and it gave me an awareness a bit later in life that, much is amiss in Washington, DC.

      Praying that this movement will spur the sequel, Superman Arrives'…

    21. toledofan says:

      I agree that every student that wants to learn should have the opportunity, but, I, also, think that the way kids learn doesn't have to be the same as it was 30 years ago. If there are trouble kids in the class they should be removed so they don't bother those who do want to be there or continueing to change the cirriculum, dumbing it down, or diversifing it so much that the truth is removed or changed to meet an individuals own philosophy like all the polictical correctness that has been pushed into the system. I think the teachers do a good job, some better than others, but, they have a tough job, especially in today's environment; the real problem boils down to too much intrusion by the government, the free spending and waste of our tax dollars and the lack of direct involvement of the parents in the child education in general.

    22. John Wentzell - Boyl says:

      School Choice is currently costing our town -

      A new school – Regional. We don't have enough students so to prevent laying off , god forbid, any teachers we have 100+ School Choice students. We have taken 20 or 30 from the local Muslim school. Why not, they only have to pay our town $5,000.00 per student, while it costs us $17,600.00 per student to educate them.With 100+ School Choice, it is costing our town $1,260,000.00 just to educate people who do not live in our town and some of whom do not share our American ideals.This rate has been set by the morons who are our legislatures.

      My son and daughter in-law have home schooled their children at great sacrifice. Today two of these children are getting college degrees. One just graduated from WPI with honors and is being sought by many companies.

      I have "no problem" with School Choice" if the towns or cities that they come from pay our costs, not some stupid amount as dictated by morons.

    23. Michele Shreveport says:

      What happens to the rest of the students? You know.. the ones that were already attending the private schools? These articles in no way ever discuss the impact it has on THEM. You can't take all these low income, poverty stricken kids, implant them into private schools and expect THEIR standards to remain the same. Also – and a VERY big point, what happens to the curriculum??? The low performing public schools are NEVER up to the standards of the private schools. So. you have these poor public school kids being injected into private school standards – they cannot do anything but slow everyone else down. They will be behind all the other kids. How do the teachers address this? Dummy down the courses? Slow down the lessons? spend 90% of their time with the new transfers? And of course,I have not even address the crime/violence potential. SO now – while increasing the standards and benefits for the low income kids – you have just sacrificed all the other children.

    24. Priscilla, , Salem, says:

      My husband and I have mentored childen in a local elementary school for 3 years. We have had the same two boys for the three years and yesterday we attended their graduation program from Elementary School. The program we volunteer through is called Kids Hope. One church matches volunteers with one elementary school and we meet with our child one hour, one day per week. Many of these children are at risk from home situations, or might need schoolwork tutoring. Most just need a friend who proves to be stable, reliable and will listen to them–someone they can count on. It has been a rewarding 3 years and the teachers have praised our program and could use more volunteers. This program provides a win-win situation for the child, the school, and, yes, for the mentor. I highly recommend it.

    25. Gregory Kasper, West says:

      The WI School Choice Program: Starting it off in Milw., WI and the students can choose either a private or parochial school.

      I've heard that it costs about $13,000 per student in the Milw. School system.

      The Private systems charge about $6,500.

      After the "bugs" are out of the program, then Green Bay, WI and Racine, WI are next.

    26. Sheila Colton, Scott says:

      The article made me smile, something I usually don't do concerning our public schools. Here in Arizona and in particular Maricopa County, our high schools are rife with drugs and school administrators deny the problem because they don't want to lose students to the competition because that would mean less money for their budgets. They even refuse to give names of students guilty of dealing and using on campus for the reason just stated. In other words, the students safety is less important than their budget. Wrong is just not going to win in this country. We as citizens and parents have put up with our schools being destroyed for too long. The status quo preaches tolerance but only if you agree with their position, Wisconsin a prime example. School choice is imperative if our young people are to have a chance to live free, productive and principled lives. We must recognize the evil influence within our society that patronizes minorities, scams young people with so called tolerance programs while failing to teach them how to read or write, shuns any mention of morals, values or ethics and bastardizes our history in their textbooks and fails to teach the United States Constitution.

      It is interesting that a lot of the older generation who grew up with Christian Judeo values, lived by the Golden Rule, respected our teachers as did our parents, had a conscience, were not taught racism seemed to receive a good education in our public schools. There was no social promotion. If you failed you were held back and held accountable. I was taught to respect all people and their property. This is what most people call human decency. It will never have to be redefined by these silly so called educators that have turned OUR schools on their heads. Common decency, manners, morals, love of your neighbor still exist and will never go out of style

    27. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I pray to God that this trend holds up! You know the Progressives have all the money in the world, (Our Money!) so it won't take anything for the New Normal to be destroyed! I haven't heard much about this in the Media, nothing in the Captive Media but the usual Line. "Republicans hate students!" the usual name calling, shifting the subject and ignoring the facts. I am sure this whole trend will be Damned By Faint Praise, but thank you Heritage Foundation for 'calling it!' Erika and of course, Lindsey Burke. I love her work. These Teacher Unions are as corrupt as can be, they get paid what? Six figures to betray the Children with Socialization instead of Education!

      Every year they have dropped the Educational Standards, some Colleges have dropped it down to 6th Grade. So, I'm not thrilled by the performance of the kids these days when it comes to knowing what our America is all about! You might say they are retarded, but nobody knows what Education used to be! You'd come out of High School with a career! Now that the kids have a six hundred word vocabulary? It takes them Four More Years and $80,000 bucks to get what we older Americans got for free! There are gigantic Progressive holes in Citizenship, Sociology, American History, and an abominable load of Junk Science!

      We celebrate the hope, the possibility that our Education will once again produce Americans! Real Americans who know the magic ingredient to America is the human Spirit. It will take three generations to undo the damage to the American Consciousness that Progressive 'edumuckation' has produced! We pay big bucks for our own Communist Indoctrination here in America! Do you think the Demo-crats will let all that power go? Naw! You have a fight now! And it will never stop! Sorry.

    28. MN J says:

      A few points:

      1 – The teachers' unions have been and are now run by 1960's-70's draft evaders b/c at that time, an education degree meant you would not be sent to Vietnam. The plus was more men in education – the negative was, they took over the unions and by definition were more aggressive. We are paying for their refusal to serve their country (let's avoid comments about the legitimacy and accurate reporting of the Vietnam War and stick to a specific result of the war for which we and our children are paying drastically).

      2 – As a public school teacher in the late 1970's, I can attest to the change in attitude towards the profession. As a former substitute teacher in public schools after 2000 and after nearly 25 years in the private sector, I can firmly state that the workload for teachers is less than the private sector and when I substituted, I was the only teacher in the hallways – the rest had retreated to their offices. School discipline problems would decline significantly if teachers just stood in the hallways between classes but union rules in too many places don't allow that anymore.

      3 – Good teachers want to teach – that is our first love – I now teach part time at a university and absolutely love it. Good teachers also are good disciplinarians – standards matter. We must get back to expecting "teachers to teach" and "students to learn." Teachers should not be in the business of building students' self esteem, egos and social engineering. IF teachers learned and then taught what needs to be taught, these three "student focused" [sic] objections would be non-issues.

      4 – Thank you, Republicans, for re-instating the voucher program in DC.

      I have no opinions on this:)

    29. Ron W. Smith, Provid says:

      Yet another episode of mud-throwing at unions, this time teachers' unions. Those of us who lived through the gains made by unions after WWII know well that today's wage earners owe much to the union movement. Take away the broad impetus for improved wages, benefits, and working conditions that unions provide, and people will be working longer hours with fewer benefits and lower wages. It's that simple, for they'll have no voice, no protections.

      In the 1950's and later, many businesses and organizations remained non-union by successfully staying a step ahead of the unions' organizers. They offered their employees better packages than unionized workers were receiving. Grumman Aircraft on Long Island, for instance, didn't go union while companies like Fairchild and Republic did, and their workforce felt very privileged for the most part.

      Upward pressure on compensation packages is a no-no to some. Employees, in their view, should be compliant, quiet, overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. Those who think that way resort to maxims like "a rising tide lifts all boats," which since 1980 has proven untrue. The biggest boats were lifted for sure, the smaller ones almost not at all; the net gain in wages since then, adjusted for inflation, somewhere in the vicinity of 8%.

      The push to destroy unionism in the public sector continues, folks, just a start toward the elimination of all unions. If you appreciate the wages, benefits, and conditions where you work, watch your back!

    30. Thomas Carter, Illin says:

      I am a retired teacher from Illinois. During my 35 years of service I always worked to improve the quality of education I provide my students. During that time I watched both the state and federal government impose programs on the local districts in order to give all students an even playing field. The schools and our children have been used as political pawns and will continue until the public says enough is enough.

      Giving vouchers to families so their children can attend private schools does not help answer the question why schools are under achieving. If the government is so concerned why our public school system is not making the grade then it should look for the core problem. It is not an easy fix and our government officials should stop looking at the unions, teacher and anyone else as scapegoats.

      To me the voucher system is nothing more than a band aid and until a concerted effort is made to reform how the system is run this will be a continual problem that will plague our country for decades to come.

      Remember, it is public education funded by the state and federal government who set the standards and requirements. As we know our governments track record has not been impressive to the American people for some time.

    31. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      If school choice is banned, then the teacher's unions will be pleased.

    32. Pingback: La opción escolar es la nueva norma | Heritage Libertad

    33. NCT, Colorado says:

      What a concept – educational funding targeted to the customer – i.e. the student – instead of bulidings, bureacracies, and unions. When looking at education for what we really want from it – student achievement – and target the money towards that goal, rather than buildings, tenure, unions, and campaign contributions, only good things can happen.

    34. Norm LA says:

      I totally agree with the idea to abolish the unions in schools and in every segment of our society. Talk about rights; how about the absolute right to a grade school education that prepares children to learn in the Junior College and or the university of personal choice if they have the funds. It is not the right to health insurance, right to own a house,as they are not rights – it is the right of every citizen of this country to receive an education that prepares students to select their future of their choice. As long as the AFT and the like is in control, that will not happen, no matter how much money is thrown at it. No Child Left Behind would have been a good start, if the teachers were not encouraged to create the grades called for in the program. Public schools have had their chance and like Obama, they failed.

    35. Dr. Henry D. Sinopol says:

      Remember, absolute free choice opens the door to Muslum, terrorist teaching schools…be careful what you wish

    36. Patti R, Lexington, says:

      .

      All parents should have the freedom of choice for their children, not just the 'poor'. That would weed-out the ineffective schools, the ineffected teachers and the ineffective school programs currently being funded by the tax payers.

    37. Tom Sutrina, Normal says:

      Milton Friedman in his book, "Free To Choose," published at least a decade ago and produced for PBS a series on the book including on on school choice. I suggest the Heritage Foundation sees if they can make this TV series available.

      I was convinced by Milton and have promoted it since.

    38. Frank, Florida says:

      A concise summary about public education in America can be found at:

      http://people.howstuffworks.com/public-schools1.h

      Bottom line: "Hundreds of years ago, most learning happened at home. Parents taught their children or, if their families could afford it, private tutors did the job." And "Massachusetts passed the first compulsory school laws in 1852. New York followed the next year, and by 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school."

      Americans recognized the need to educate their children to be successful both as a nation & as individuals. But rather than uphold the views of their parents, children in public schools are being indoctrinated into the views of an overall very liberal, big government elite with godless, socialistic leanings in a monopolistic system. The poor & middle classes have a difficult time affording private education to avoid the mind washing of their children. A return to home schooling helps solve this problem, but with a high divorce rate & too many one parent households, this is also too often not an option as the one parent needs to work instead of staying home to educate the kids.

      The most fair way to solve this problem is to offer all parents some sort of a tax paid voucher system where parents would be given the financial means to chose among a wide range of options in the education of their children & have them attend a school more in line with the values of their parents. The competition for educational tax dollars among schools would help stimulate academic excellence & weed out the worst schools.

    39. Abby Attwood, Olathe says:

      Thanks for your article, however I think the majority of my fellow conservatives are missing the fact that vouchers are just another entitlement program in disguise. Vouchers are only given to "the poor", and thus an entitlement.

      I would rather see us work to make our public schools better, than to risk dismatling them in the name of school choice. In Olathe we have amazing schools. These amazing schools are at risk because OTHER school districts don't have their house in order. Vouchers will KILL our property values, diminish our education, and create yet another FAILED entitlement program.

      I fully believe that we need to work to make our public school systems better, rather than institute vouchers and create the entitlement program. The fast majority of public school systems are good. There are many people that like to showcase the failed systems (i.e. "Waiting for Superman" and "The Cartel"). I ask you to consider good school systems, like ours in Olathe, KS, where the test scores are great, the graduation rates are great, we are developing students that I believe will find the cure for cancer! The glass is not half empty, folks! The glass is half full…..it's up to us to keep working for a brighter future for our public schools.

    40. Don Vander Jagt, Gra says:

      As a retireree from the Michigan Public School system there is NO doubt in my mind we must have complete school choice, charter schools are only a bandade type of fix!

    41. Steve Adams says:

      What criteria is needed to become a "failing school" Poorly trained teachers? Disadvantaged students? Deviation from and/or no standard lesson plans for each grade level? If students do not meet the standard lesson plan achievement level, FIND OUT WHY, Then deal with the problem, on an individual student basis.

      You cannot solve the education problem by sending the achieving students away to another school, leaving the low achievers to fend for themselves. Build one on one teaching methods until the student can bridge the gap and attain parity with the other students. Don't duplicate the system by building "Charter Schools". Strive to make all schools "Charter Schools" As for teacher performance if teachers are not up to standard school board criteria, then bring them up to level required.

      If they cannot be elevated up to standards, then help them relocate into a work field more suitable to their abilities.

      Don't perpetuate below standard teachers for a lifetime of non performance, while subjecting their students of a lifetime of sub standard living. School Boards and Administrators! Take you heads out of the sand. We can do better.

    42. Doug Toronto says:

      The new report in education week says that, if we are to do what all of the leading nations do, choice has little or nothing to do with it. We need to do less testing, fund our public school system better choose teachers from the top 1/3 of university GPAs, insist on an MA or two to qualify for teaching and so on. We re going 100% against what the successful nations do.

    43. Pingback: Morning Bell: School Choice Is the New Normal | International Education News | Renaissance School International | Panama City | private preschool, elementary school, middle school

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    45. Sandra Tugrul Lebano says:

      As a former school board member and thirty years of researching public education, it is my opinion that the government schools are totally broken. The union, nepotism, favoritism, federal and state laws and interventions, lack of financial oversight and more has diminished the possibility of providing a quality education to our children.

      No one oversees the finances and so billions are spent at the discretion of those in charge. Audits are usually performed with as few checks as possible. No one is looking and so a mafia-like "benefit" is doled out to those in charge.

      The mantra is always "for the children," but in reality 85% or more is paid out in salaries and wages. The 15% or less pays for busing, books and other necessities. So this is where the cuts are made if the taxpayers refuse to pass another levy. Cuts are made to hurt the children and the parents where it will hurt the most.

      In Ohio our governor, thankfully, has signed SB 5, but the union members will not tolerate any changes to their Cadillac benefits, automatic step raises and tenure. So they are paying people to pass a petition to put a referendum on the ballot in November. I am sure their campaign will be brutal and expensive. If the taxpayers are stupid enough to vote for this referendum, the unions will recoup their expenses when all of their benefits are reinstated. Then they will have even more money to use to campaign for the candidates of their choice. I feel that School Choice is the only answer to the problem. The caveat has to be that every student receives a voucher and can use it for the school of his or her choice. No rules and no edicts or intervention from the government. The voucher goes directly to the school. The Department of Education should be abolished.

    46. ArmyGirl, Pennsylvan says:

      SB1 is another program that will ultimately hurt the middle class taxpayer. Every single child should have access to a proper and quality education, not just a select group of students. In PA, only those making $27,000 or less will get a $9K check or less. Those making over $27K will get nothing. I wish national organizations, even Heritage, would read the bill before they comment. SB1 is not what PA wants. PA has had options for school choice for 15+ years, including the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. We have waited long enough for REAL School Choice. 30,000 middle class children will be left behind in failing schools. If they could afford to get out, they would have already been gone by now. But the issue, is not about failing schools. It is about failing students and the assumption that private schools and check for $9K is going to fix every student. Homeschooling and Private cyber is far less expensive and produces better results. SB1 is not comprehensive and far from equitable after all of the years PA has waited. SB1 does not have a roadmap or long term plan. This bill has been bought and paid for by a few wealthy individuals and FreedomWorks. http://www.unitepa.org GET THE TRUTH

    47. a praal says:

      Those of you who are for the privatization of education, now not what you say. Countries around the work are looking to our present ways of educating children, which encourages creativity and thinking and trying to copy it. They have been doing the testing thing and treating everyone the "same" – little widgets. Why are we trying to go backwards. Everyone will wonder what has happened when the privatization fails and our public schools will truly be failing then too. It will all be too late. Remember, we educate EVERYONE – from the brightest to the child in the wheelchair who needs their diapers changed and cant hold their head up and will never speak. That is not true of every country. I can;t wait to see if both of those groups of children and every one in between are accepted into your private schools. Those creators say they will be, but wait until they have to carrying kicking, screaming Johnny out of class everyday because he is hurting other children and need to find someone to clean Susie's trech tube and change her diapers!

    48. Cornelia Lewisville says:

      My daughter is a 23 year veteran of public school teaching. Her horror stories about abusive teachers would break your heart. Frequently there is some smarmy connection to someone in the "front office" which mean nothing will be done.

      THESE are the children who are left behind. Nothing will permanently change the results until competition is built into the system.

    49. Howard M. says:

      Nice article. Too bad the premise is false. There isn't any credible, researched-based evidence proving vouchers improve achievement for the students who get them. In fact, the latest study out of Wisconsin indicates just the opposite.

      In the latest Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction study, voucher students performed “similar or worse” than public school students.

      Here is a link to an article about the study. http://badgerherald.com/oped/2011/03/30/school_vo

      As for Washington, DC, a 2010 US Department of Education study concluded "there is no conclusive evidence that the voucher affected student achievement" but "the voucher did significantly improved students’ chances of graduating from high school."

      The researchers stated their study had limitations indicating "the same program implemented in another city might yield different results, and a

      different scholarship program administered in Washington, DC, might also produce different outcomes."

      These studies hardly prove vouchers "offer a better alternative for America’s children" than the regular public schools as claimed in this article.

      Link to entire study – http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104018/pdf/20104019
      school

      School choice may be an initiative favored by some for philosophical reasons, but to claim it will improve student achievement simply isn't true.

    50. Diane Perfetto, Buff says:

      Do you know the status of any type of this legislation in NY, we have three children in private school and have been waiting for vouchers for years. My fear is my kids will be in college before it passes NY.

    51. Phillip Hermes says:

      It seems that the school choice groups could unite and take the relevant gov organization to court claiming that parents who choose non-public schools are not provided ":equal protection" under the law when they make this choice.

      Obviously, those parents who choose the public schools are rewarded with educational tax-provided services, while those parents who choose a non-public school are denied these services.

      The goal of the state should be to support parental choice in education. The educational taxes should be collected to promote education, not to promote the public school system.

      Parents who pay educational taxes all their life should not be stripped of these educational tax dollars because they choose a non-public school system for their children. In effect, their educational taxes are sent to the public school system where it is being paid for students who are not in the public school system.

    52. Erich, TN says:

      Great concept, however, what is disappointing that again this seems like it will be another entitlement program. I am so tired of the benefits only being extended to the low-income families or individuals. Just another reason for the lower income people to stay lower income.

      I pay for my daughter to attend private school as well as pay taxes towards public schools. I fail to see what the income level has to do with this. I thought the goal was to improve education across the board. I am not considered a low-income earner; I am probably a lower lever middle class earner that cares about my child’s education. I will probably not be able to send her to college unless she gets scholarships. And if that doesn’t happen I will probably do whatever it takes for her to get her a college degree with out government loans.

      Allow all parents to send their kids to a school of their choice through tax credits. This will accomplish four valuable things. 1. Force the lower income parents to do whatever it takes to get their children a quality education (earn more to qualify to tax credits). 2. Cause many public schools to either drastically improve or face closing. 3. Put the responsibility of the children on the parents and not some liberal slanting government organization. 4. Allow people that pay taxes to get the benefit of their tax dollars for their own child’s education.

      And if none of this sounds good then turn all the schools over to the private sector, get rid of all departments of education and watch our youth become successful overnight.

      Sincerely,

      INVOLVED PARENT!

    53. Mike Jacobs, Sacrame says:

      Swedish schools, both public and private, get the same government subsidy for each enrolled student and cannot charge more unless the school is a boarding school. Each school competes for students based on required curriculum and addition areas of study.

    54. Pingback: Iran’s Nuclear Efforts Are Accelerating | Pitts Report

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