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  • Morning Bell: Celebrating School Choice Week

    What singular cause could bring together the likes of Democratic campaign strategist James Carville, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal (LA), actor Sacha Baron Cohen, and 2,000 families, all under one roof? The answer: school choice — empowering parents with the ability to save their children from failing schools, thereby giving them a shot at a brighter future.

    Those big names came together to kick off National School Choice Week in New Orleans over the weekend, a celebration that is being echoed in some 400 events across the country in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with half the nation’s governors declaring “School Choice Week” in their states. Actor, comedian, and education advocate Bill Cosby offered his support for school choice, as well:

    I strongly support National School Choice Week because all children in America should be able to access the best schools possible. We have a moral and societal obligation to give our children the opportunity to succeed in school, at work, and in life. We cannot meet that obligation unless parents are empowered to select the best schools of their children. I encourage everyone who wants to see a transformation of American education to get involved in National School Choice Week.

    The groundswell of support comes after a year of significant strides in the school choice movement. A total of 12 states and the District of Columbia either enacted or expanded school choice options in 2011. Heritage education expert Lindsey Burke explains that last year, “more families than ever before gained access to school choice options, freeing them from assignment-by-zip code policies that often relegate families to the public school closest to their home, regardless of whether it meet their child’s needs.” As a result, more families have access to school choice options — including vouchers, tax credits, homeschooling, online learning, and even education savings accounts.

    That expansion of school choice came after what appeared to be ominous news for some of America’s schoolchildren in 2009 and 2010. In Washington, D.C., home to some of the country’s most dangerous and under-performing schools, families of low-income children received vouchers through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, giving them a chance to choose a brighter educational future. That light of hope, though, was about to be extinguished when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) inserted a provision in a 2009 spending bill that would have ended the program. That changed, though, when the Tea Party revolution came to Congress, bringing with it a new movement toward school choice. In early 2011, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) successfully fought for the reauthorization of the D.C. scholarship program, ensuring that those families continued to have a choice in education.

    The opportunities those children enjoy provide an example for the rest of the country. Heritage president Ed Feulner explains why school choice — and improving education in America — is such a central issue for our country’s future:

    There are many good public schools across this country with dedicated teachers who deserve praise. Unfortunately, there also are many bad schools, especially in urban areas. When you consider the damage those institutions inflict, making it nearly impossible for students to learn and fulfill their potential, you realize it’s nothing short of a national crime. That’s why it’s so heartening to see the school-choice movement gaining ground.

    This year, leaders at the state level should hear the cries of the families they represent and continue moving toward more school choice in 2012 by expanding options such as school vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts, and online learning. It’s not a conservative issue or a liberal issue, Republican or Democrat. Ensuring that our children have the best education possible is an American issue, and it’s one that the country should get behind.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    43 Responses to Morning Bell: Celebrating School Choice Week

    1. glynnda says:

      Okay, something worthwhile that is supported bi-partisan…..this is a miracle….

      School Choice is most definitely the way to go. My position is shut down the public school system, create an education account for every child from birth on that will assist parents in paying for day care, k-12 and college. Once the college or higher education has been accomplished, turn it into a retirement account which the child becomes responsible for maintaining. Federal, State and Local governments along with parents fund these accounts and all are responsible to do so. If parents have children they should be able to afford them, that goes for school, health care, etc. The government can assist, but the parent is responsible. The government should have no other role either in pre-basic or higher education than assisting parents in funding these accounts from tax revenues. The parent chooses the education their children will receive and they pay for it.

    2. @EDinCali says:

      School choice…Open education up to competition. Vouchers to parents to select where they want to send their children. Education will improve overnight when they have to compete for the student.

    3. steve says:

      where is Obama????

    4. Whicket Williams says:

      I am 59 years old In My lifetime, education in the US has deteriorated to the point that a College graduate has less education than a 10th grader when I went to school,

    5. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      If there's an inner city high school where students aren't learning because of gangs, and other distractions, then
      the students should be given a choice between staying there, or getting a voucher to attend a better high school,
      or a private school. It doesn't matter if it's a Catholic school or not. That's one thing that UFT, and NEA, don't want. So they went to Obama right after he was elected, and asked him to kill the law that allowed parents in
      Washington, DC, to choose whether they should allow their kids to stay in that bad inner city school. That doesn't
      make sense.

      • RK Pope says:

        All well and good but wouldn't the gangs move with them? Gangs aren't built with stability they are fluid and move where the money goes. Now I believe all should have equal opportunity but you can move them to Harvard but if they have to survive in the same environment little will likely change. Parents are no longer emphasizing education. Kids are getting away with not doing work for schools fear making parents mad or fear the students. Change is needed but letting kids go from here to there and there is no accountability likely will not work. Also, what happens to the school built for 500 students and 1000 wish to attend? What then? Who determines who goes and who stays? I'm concerned that choice will breed segregation, again and/or those who have the means will still get the advantage. It is the law of survival.

    6. Dennis O'Donovan says:

      School choice within the public school system, meaning choosing between regular public schools and charter schools is not school choice. School choice in which any system is implemented which gives preferential treatment to one group over another is not school schoice. School choice in which the voucher is not of an equal amount for each child is not school choice. School choice, as implemented in any manner other than giving each parent in a state a voucher for each of his school age children to be used at the school of his choice including religiously affiliated, is not school choice. Next to the right to life, parental choice in education is the greatest civil rights issue in twenty-first century America. http://www.rpconradio.com

    7. If you are able…get your children out of the government controlled schools. We shouldn't have to fight the government for choices involving our children's education.

      • Kari Ewell says:

        That is the problem, majority of the population does not have the privilege of getting their "children out of the government controlled schools" and we should not have to do so when access to a free quality education is supposed to be right for every child despite your zip code or parent's SES.

    8. Dennis Thomas says:

      I am a parent of two children and this whole voucher/school choice has made me about as angry as I can every remember myself being! My wife and I are Catholic and when we married we vowed to raise our children in the Catholic Faith and, our own personal choice, to educate them in Catholic Schools. We knew it would be a sacrifice, and it turned out to be a huge one at that. But we stuck with it, paying the high cost, doing without a lot of things to ensure our children got the type of well rounded education we wanted for them. We still paid our taxes that paid for the Public Schools even though we did not send them there. We received no assistance. Now you are giving it to everyone without any sacrifice on their part.

      • Kari Ewell says:

        Mr. Thomas, I would like to begin by saying thank you to both you and your wife for making the necessary sacrifice for both of your children to receive a quality education to your liking. And while it is unfortunate that you both were required to still pay school taxes although your children did not attend local public schools that is a conscious decision/ "choice" both you and your wife could afford to make. However, I would like to address the more pertinent issue you raised which is the access to school choice and the concept of sacrifice. Although I see your point I implore you to look at the issue from this perspective, at the end of the day the most important constituents in the debate over school choice are not educators, parents or policy makers but in fact students who in many circumstances cannot advocate for themselves. With this being said is it not fair for students whose parents, are not involved in their education, do not posses the "know-how", and/or who lack the economical means to ensure a quality education to be forced to attend failing schools. Why should your child have an advantage over the next because you took the initiative to invest in your child's education? Think about the child! Is it fair for the student's education trajectory to be determined by a their parents' SES? If so this will only create a perpetual cycle of haves and have not as we currently have. Where you were able to make sacrifices and sagacious decisions for your children many parents cannot. Education choice is not about money and sacrifices, it's about granting opportunity to student's who otherwise are relegated to poor schools. Please expand your way of thinking and consider the millions of children that are currently relegated to poor schools. And remember offering access to quality schools to all children will ultimately affect the entire economy as we are a nation together and must improve our education system to now compete in a global economy. School choice is the first step to reshaping our education system!

      • Thank you! My husband and I did similar for our three children, parochial schools. We're both approaching our latter 50s and still haven't (financially) recovered – and maybe never will. (We're also survivors of this economic downturn – unemployment., underemployment). We're in a better place now but, instead of living upper middle class lives (like most of the people we know), we're at about the same economic level as my parents and grandparents, I call it "middle" middle class and trying to work our way upward (again!).

    9. Dennis Thomas says:

      That is what is wrong with America today. Everyone expects to be handed everything anymore and even conservatives like us are playing into that game. Should we not concentrate on making those underperforming schools better. Should we not concentrate on eliminating the Federal Department of Education and allow the State and local people to police their own problems. If we are goingto give vouchers and tax rebates for education then we should make that retroactive to when the Federal government started sticking their noses in and messing things up and give me my tax dollars back for all those years that I scrimped and saved and sacrificed for my children.

    10. @sh_d_a_b says:

      good morning education is a must school choice option is the best for all but the most important thing is children are like mirror of their friends around it is also necessary dat they should get good companions and competition so that they perform much more

    11. John Stevens says:

      Offering "School Choice" may make things worse. Let's be responsible adults. Let's take the stance and make the changes necessary to bring our public schools up to the level of those that would be "chosen"! Limit centralized planning. Empower the local administrators. Reward achievement (of the schools) and get rid of those who don't perform (teachers & administrators). Pay teachers a decent wage and reward creativity. And, oh by the way, kick the teacher's unions to the curb!
      There is no excuse for the government to fail where private enterprise shines!

      • Krishna says:

        I think striving toward making the existing systems better is a more sustainable option than school choice.
        At the same time there should be clarity on the course of action that needs to be taken if under performing schools do no get better.
        The system should be such that if the schools do not meet certain levels of performance they should cease to exist. This does not mean that the schools should be closed down except under some rare sitiations but their should be an independent body selected from the most highly performing schools to create a pool of highly qualified professionals that can charter plans for schools to improve organically.
        This body should have its own oversight built in but should have a federally mandated authority to help execute the transformation plan.
        The philosophy is simple,get the honest and willing people that know how to run good schools while understanding local circumstances and give them the authority to bring about change

      • Kari Ewell says:

        Although I agree with many of your radical demands… they are unfortunately very unlikely. When attempting to reshape a staple in our country such as the education system we must be wise and calculated in our efforts. Many of the amendments you suggested although worthwhile will never come to fruition because they are supported by one of the strongest groups in America, the NEA and AFT. We cannot get rid of teacher unions thus we must either work around them (Charter schools) or work with them.

    12. Pastor Ron Aldridge says:

      If our politicians from both sides of the aisle and the independents would just look for issues like this that they agree on, we could pull this county back together and be a GREAT nation again. I believe the state motto from my home state of Ky. would serve our nation well; United we stand, divided we fall."

    13. Kirk says:

      As an 18 year member of a small community school Board of Education in Ohio, if the government would get out of the education business and let the communities to dicate policies I think you would see a dramatic increase in the level of education. Schools would be able to once again teach kids the three R's and get away from the NCLB policy that requires school's to teach towards a test that takes away from the basic principals required to properly educate students. Let local taxes stay within the district and do away with unfunded mandates, etc. and see the changes that I believe would rapidly develop. Thank you

      • Dr Millgram says:

        Though I am hardly a NEA supporter I also don't see the wisdom in having people like you "dictating policies."

    14. FlaJim says:

      Unfortunately, there are political forces at work here that would deny school choice because the Dems are so beholden to the NEA which stands in strong opposition. It fears two things that would diminish its stranglehold on the classroom: merit based retention standards for teachers and awarding grants to independent (non union) schools such as has been instituted in Louisiana. The success of the movement described hinges on breaking the back of the NEA.

    15. PADDY O says:

      Senator Durbin tried to stop the program? Isn't it strange that if it is a good idea, but not theirs, the Democrats will put a crimp in It? That tactic is what they are accusing the Republicans of doing!
      Some one called that ' Transference " and that describes it pretty well, accuse others of doing what your doing.

    16. bassboat says:

      The looters in DC are hard at work pandering to the teacher's unions for their votes. This never has been about "the children" as they would try to make you believe. Two things puzzle me, one why we continue to elect these people, and two, why a media would allow this to happen. I know the media is liberal but at one point in time how in goodness name can they ignore this problem?

    17. Joan Luca says:

      The best help we can give education in this country is to rid our schools of the NEA which has totally destroyed true education in this country. It has given too much power to its leaders and taken all power away from parents and educators. Schools are top-heavy with administrators who are very well paid and do little to advance education in their districts. Teachers are teaching the liberal line and students are given no chance to learn both sides of any issued. When the power of the NEA is removed and parents are given the right to choose the schooling for their children, those children will be well-educated and again become the best in the world.

    18. bus says:

      There already exists plenty of school choice, if one is willing to pay for it. The title to this article should be FREE school choice. Getting the government to fund a child's education is the kicker and how many programs should the government establish to provide all this free education? Or do we turn it over to for-profit schools? Not a bad idea but should there be some regulation to ensure a good education? If so then who provides the oversight? Oh that would be the government again, so the cycle continues.
      It all sounds real easy until you get down to the actual problem.

    19. Joseph McKennan says:

      School choice should unquestionably be available for all. That is one reason we pay taxes- to support a public education system. Also, it seems–JUST– that any child should be entitled to go to any school she/he wishes. I am impressed with Boehner's support.

    20. John Salo says:

      Sir:
      It is good that this effort is being made. I deal with school children everyday and can tell you that the main problem is not the schools but usually the parents or lack of parents or parenting.
      You cannot change this massive decline in education unless you change parents attitute.
      Don't get me wrong this effort can help but you are not addressing the main problem.

      Diogenes

    21. Dennis O'Donovan says:

      If school choice is a good thing, which I believe it to be, why settle for half measures? The parent of each school age child should receive a voucher of equal value throughout an entire state. No qualifications. The voucher should be capable of being used at any school: religiously affiliated, private or publicl. Anything short of this is not true parental choice in education.

    22. faye krause says:

      I have just finished re-reading two books by Jeff Shaara, "Rise to Rebellion" and "The Glorious Cause" If you have not read them, please do, and keep for you and your families to read over the years. I wish they were required reading of every student in school—elem and beyond. Perhaps if everyone knew what our fore-fathers went through to establish this country we live in, we would all be more responsible citizens. could do away with the sand-box bickering, and stop shredding the constitution. I think George, Thomas. Ben and the rest of the boys are turning over in their graves now and really wondering why they went to all the trouble. WE owe them a lot more than what is going on now..

    23. Todd says:

      The only reason liberals do not like this is because they lose control of the message young minds hear. Just like the Keystone pipeline, liberals will not support what is good for this control if it jeopardizes their control of the country.

    24. Jeanne Stotler says:

      We sent our older kids to Catholic school, I went to Catholic school, we sacrificed for the tuition and I would do it again. When we moved to Fla. in 1972, I had a first grader, rest in Middle and High school, it would have been an hour trip each way, too much for a little one, Schools need to be returned to the States. There is another fact, kids go to school longer days and a longer school year YET the come out knowing less, they sure do NOT have a knowledge of Civics and what is in the Constitution, Bill of rights and Articles of Confederation. Most cannot write in long hand.

    25. Nancy says:

      After being involved with public, private and home schools over the last twenty years, I'm convinced of the need for options for students and parents. As a certified teacher trying to be part of the solution, I've started a tutoring center that offers extensive support to students. We cover all the core subjects in a small group setting, while meeting for four and 1/2 hours a day. This model combines the best parts of home and private education. Parents have ultimate control over their children's curriculum, yet don't have to personally teach all subjects to their children. There are many gifted teachers, especially retired teachers who still love to help students learn, who could provide this type of learning environment. I believe that nearly all students in the classroom could thrive if they were given the opportunity to work in smaller groups and at their own pace. I'm sure there are many even better ideas out there. Educators, let's not give up trying to change the system for our children and the generations to follow!

    26. Mark says:

      Nurture may bring out all there is in a man, but nature determines what there is to bring out.

    27. Vickie Suarez says:

      I'm glad the discussion is about the welfare of children in schools. But, how to provide "the best education possible" is a parent's decision, not a government one. Americans want to raise their children without government interference, as the parents see fit, in freedom, not as the government 'so graciously allows'. Being given permission by government to choose a school for your children is not freedom.
      We need to back track on the premise of the discussion. That government should provide parents with expanded options to educate their children is false. Parents have been given the right to raise their children by God, not the government. We need to reframe the discussion, redefine the terms. The government should not even be involved in the decision as to how a child is educated. That decision should be a parental decision. If we continue down this path, parental rights will continue to erode, and we will be asking for permission from government for everything. There will be no rights left for parents. We need to protect parental rights. The decision of how to educate children should belong to parents completely.

    28. David Olson says:

      Choice is fine, but vouchers and tax credits still involves the federal government. If someone wants to send their child to a private school, that should be their choice. But the federal government has no place in local education, even through tax credits. The more choices we create, the less efficiently we are using of our resources. As a country, we already spend more on education than is necessary. The key is to make local schools responsive to local needs and capable of delivering a first rate education. Private schools should be available to the extent the market can sustain them.

    29. Mike says:

      School choice has mostly if not only helped blacks or people who pay little or no taxes. It is discriminatory and unfair. That's the only reason you have black support. Another handout that they don't pay for.

    30. Yagar says:

      Part 1

      The last I knew this country is based on what is best for the majority. Why tear apart a system that works for the large majority, because of problem in the low minority. It is unfortunate that the minority have to suffer but isn't that what a democracy is? Look at the state this country is in. We are here because of legislation after legislation , of which there is nothing in the constitution that says it is permitted to do. If you track the decline of education it follows the path of legislation's that has come from the federal government, legislation like "IDEA" and "No Child Left Behind'. Billions are spent on a very small majority of students with little or no actual good coming from it. Is the real problem government?

    31. Yagar says:

      Comments have been made to dismantle the public education system and make it private. Public schools make no profit, what business is going to operate on a zero profit margin. And if you want to do that then make the private system accountable like the public already is. At present there is no accountability for private schools. A few make public their records, most don't. In addition make them take any and all student that show up at their doorsteps, even students with special needs, something they don't have to take now. A student can show up to attend a public school in a district and even if it cost $100,000 a year to provide for that student the public system has to provide it. Are private schools going to be required to do the same or are these students going to be left to the public system? Then in a couple years we can hear about how horrible the scores are coming out of the public schools.

    32. Yagar says:

      If you look at the data, some schools are held back not because of what education they provide to the majority of students but because of lower achievements in the special education groups of students. If you want to compare the public system to the private, level the playing field. Remove the data from the public results that the private do not have to provide.

    33. Yagar says:

      Lastly, and I can only speak of my small town PA environment. A growing number of students that choose the cyber charter route only do it because they do not want to be in school and their parents/law will not let them just quit. Money is paid to the school from the district budget and in most cases the student gets nothing from it and attends only until they can legally quit. If the student happens to be "Special Ed" student, the amount the district pays is doubled even though the student receives nothing extra from the cyber school. Students that have returned from the cyber charter option have been found to be very far behind and it then become the public school's responsibility to catch them up.

    34. Yagar says:

      Be careful what you wish for you might just get something that will just make a few individuals rich while not giving close to what you thought it would. In PA big money is pushing vouchers, big money doesn't push anything unless they see a way to make big money.

      Posted in parts because of limits…..

    35. O2BMe says:

      The Federal government should get out of the education business. Locale government has to be more responsible to what the parents want for their children or get voted out of their jobs. The right to choose the school they want for their children should be their right as all parents pay the same taxes to support schools. There are more than Catholic schools available. Besides charter schools there Lutheran schools, Montessori schools, and other religiously operated schools. The idea that every child wants to go to college should be looked. Public high schools used to offer the children shop courses that let them sample the trades. Electrical, plumbing, auto repair, etc. cannot be outsourced to China or India. Very few schools offer this today.

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