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School Choice in America Part I

Today Americans find themselves in the midst of a great crisis in our educational system. Parents across the nation are waking up with the realization that the promise of public education has failed to deliver.

Our public schools have largely failed to meet even the most basic standards of education. In February of 2012 the U.S. Department of Education reported that nearly 20% of high school graduates were functionally illiterate. Results of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 13% of high school seniors were “proficient” in U.S. history. The graduating class of 2012 held the lowest average SAT reading score in 40 years.

It should be clear that something has gone horribly awry, but we need to understand that the problem isn’t recent. For instance, in Detroit the illiteracy rate for adults stands at 47%. Only decades of incompetence could have made that statistic possible.

We need to come to terms with the fact that there are deep-rooted problems with our educational philosophy and institutional structure. For years Americans have recognized the problem without making headway on solutions. The last two decades, however, have given rise to a movement which suggests a way out. School choice.

What better a way to solve the above issues than allowing parents a greater say in where and how their education tax dollars are spent. No government official will care more for a child’s education than the parents of that child, and there is no better incentive for schools to change the way they teach than the challenge of competition.  

The cities of Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, DC have seen some success with private school voucher programs (which also cut down on cost per student), and dozens of states have passed legislation allowing the formation of Charter schools. While Charter schools are popular for their semi-autonomy and lack of union teachers, public Magnet schools are also on the rise. Magnet schools attract students across district lines, have admissions standards, and usually specialize in a specific area i.e. medicine, business, engineering etc.

Parents are also becoming aware of the great opportunity provided by homeschooling. We are fortunate to live in a country where homeschooling is legal in every state, and the number of homeschoolers has been steadily rising. Homeschool students routinely outperform their public school counterparts with the 2 million American homeschoolers consistently achieving high marks on their ACT exams.

What’s more, the average yearly cost of homeschooling a child is estimated at only $1000. 

Several states are currently battling to implement or defend these alternatives as teacher unions spend millions to stop them. Political leaders in Texas and Tennessee are now preparing to propose school voucher legislation, measures which are sure to face significant opposition. In Louisiana residents are fighting a court decision which struck down the voucher system they already have in place.

The most common argument made by school-choice opponents is that these alternative options draw the best children out of troubled district schools. They say this diverts money from the poorest districts while leaving behind the troubled children. This cry for increased funding, however, is something we’ve heard before.

The education problems we face are most obvious in low-income areas. Far from meaning these schools are underfunded (Detroit Public Schools spend $13,000 per student) their lack of performance shows that tossing money at the problem hasn’t been working. Contrary to claims by opponents that school choice measures would “screw the poor” it is in fact our current system which is abandoning those most in need.

At this very moment parents around the country are fighting for the ability to reward success and punish failure in their children’s districts. Americans have long placed special value on the education of the young, and taxpayers have long been willing to fund such programs. Politicians have established everything from cigarette taxes to state lotteries in the name of funding education. Now is the time to seek accountability for these funds.

If these efforts are to succeed, voters and especially parents must speak up and let their representatives know they stand with school choice.

Doyle Maston

This is a great posting! We must do all we can to secure short and medium term solutions to help us win the fight against the onslaught of progressive liberalism and socialistic mindsets within our national education system. However, I would suggest that if we are to effect long term, positive solutions then, we must fight fire with fire, so to speak. We must do all that we can to lenghten our vision and strengthen our resolve by addressing long term solutions for tomorrow......and we must start today!
Back in the 1960s, radical and soft-edged liberals alike began a concerted effort to take over the educational system of the U.S.A. They determined that the best way to change the system was not by external pressure alone. Instead, they decided to take over the system from the inside. It was a long term plan that many of them knew would not return immediate results but would, in time, radicalize the system to their favor.....and time has proven them right. If we are to effectively reverse their deletarious effects upon generations of American children, then we must willing to do the same.

For more than 100 years, conservatives in the United States ruled the education system. Principles, teachers, college professors et al...were fields dominated by freedom loving, conservative minded individuals that understood that shaping the hearts and minds of our children was paramount to securing the liberties this great nation provides. But over the last 40+ years, the liberals have been taking those positions away from conservatives.....and they have been doing so patiently; one position at a time. It is this long term, systematic process that is directly responsible for shaping the current, and vastly ineffective, U.S. education system.
We MUST begin the slow and arduous task of reclaiming the nation's educaiton systems efffective immediately! We must be prepared for a multi-decade plan to raise our children to respect conservative principles, and then encourage them to become the educators of our future generations! We must work tirelessly to restructure our national education system into a intelligent and well-reasoned system that no longer panders ot the lowest common denominator but tries to raise the bar for all.

We must encourage our children to become secondary and post-secondary educators than can intelligently fight to change the system from the inside. We must take the time to teach our children the all-important critical thinking skills currently ignored by our public schools by teaching them how to recognize logical fallacies and attack them with intelligence, reason, and integrity.
We must fight to eliminate these ineffective and idiotic evaluation tests that dominate our nations' classroom and return these tests to their original intent: to being the evaluative tools for parents and teachers that they were always intended to be!
And ladies and gentlemen, this process begins at home! We must spend more time with our children, encouraging solid, conservative principles and teaching them how to effectively defend those principles with calm logic and reason!

As a non-traditional student that returned to pursue a college degree at the age of 44, I have seen the current system first-hand, from the inside, and have been appalled by what I have seen. It has made me realize that if I want to do my part in returning America to a nation ruled by conservative principles, then I must do all that I can to effect positive change within my own sphere of influence. It is the principle propelling me to attend graduate school so that I can do exactly what I am suggesting.

It is past time for us to reclaim America! We must stop supporting the status quo by stopping all of the rhetoric, finger-pointing, and name-calling and replace those words with positive and effective actions. It is time that conservatives all across this great nation make a stand, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.
Nobody can win this battle for our nation's future from the sidelines. We must demonstrate through our words AND our actions that the best solution to our nation's problems is to get our hands dirty. This is no longer a problem that we can throw money at and expect to win!

If we are to be truly effective in implimenting long term solutions, then we must be prepared to fight a long term battle to reclaim this nation's education system; and we must begin that battle NOW!