Today the Alabama Department of Education announced its list of failing schools for 2000, identifying which schools will be taken over by the state. Alabama Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) has taken a steadfast position that the best way to save failing schools is to break up the public school monopoly and use vouchers to give parents control of their child’s education. But, a state takeover promises nothing but more of the same.
Most recently, Alabama CSE mobilized our members to encourage their state representatives and senators to support S.B. 549, the Student Opportunity Scholarship Program. This legislation would have offered vouchers to those families stuck in failing school districts. Although the bill was not passed and signed into law, it raised the profile of this important issue and it will be a high priority in the next legislative session.
“The solutions offered by the state to fix failing schools are not enough,” said Toby Roth, director of Alabama Citizens for a Sound Economy. “We need school choice proposals like the Student Opportunity Scholarship Program that will empower parents with choices and bring the benefit of competition to our public schools. The system of higher education offers proof that choice and competition produces success.”
Recently, newspaper reports have alleged that some schools have resorted to cheating on the Stanford Achievement Test to avoid being placed on the list of failing schools. As appalling as these stories may sound, they are not nearly as bad as the sub-par education provided by some of our schools. To ensure children are given the best possible education, parents need the resources to send their children to the school of their choice, whether it is publicly or privately run.
“Cleveland, Milwaukee and Florida all have school choice programs that demonstrate how competition can improve K-12 education,” Roth said. “Student test scores are up in those areas, and parents rise up in outrage when anyone threatens to return their children to the days of government-monopoly education.”