Posts Tagged ‘school choice’
March 31st, 2011 at 12:36 am
Indiana GOP Poised to Pass Sweeping School Voucher Program

Indiana Republicans are expected to pass major school choice legislation in the next few days, allowing a family of four with incomes as high as $60,000 the opportunity to spend their tax dollars on the kind of education they want.

Here’s a perfect summary of the argument for public school vouchers from one Hoosier supporter:

“We fund education for a reason — to give individual children the skills they need to compete in life,” said Luke Messer, former executive director of the Indiana Republican Party who now heads School Choice Indiana. “If the money follows the child, parents ought to have the right to put their child in whatever opportunity they think would best serve their family.”

Vouchers put power into the hands of those most affected by choices about schools: families of students.  Let’s hope Indiana Republicans go to the mat for this one.

January 25th, 2011 at 1:36 am
D.C. School Vouchers Will Test Obama’s Commitment to Bipartisanship
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As President Obama uses Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to attempt a pivot to the center (a topic you can hear me discuss at length with my fellow former White House speechwriters Peter Robinson and Bill McGurn in last week’s Ricochet podcast), newly minted Speaker of the House John Boehner is preparing to call the president’s bluff by teeing up an offer that the president — who has long claimed to be a proponent of education reform — shouldn’t be able to refuse: the renewal of school vouchers in Washington, D.C.

D.C. schools have long had a reputation as the nation’s worst. In response, a five year pilot program of Opportunity Scholarships (a fancy term for school vouchers) was begun in 2004. Then, in 2009 — despite years of positive results — an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress bent to the will of the teachers’ unions and shut the program down. Ninety percent of the children who had to leave the program then found themselves back in failing D.C. schools.

If Speaker Boehner has his way, that trend will be coming to an end soon. According to a story in Politico:

The day after President Barack Obama makes education a centerpiece of his State of the Union address, House Speaker John Boehner will try to force his hand on the issue of school vouchers in Washington, D.C. as a test of the White House’s commitment to bipartisanship.

The Ohio Republican, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), will introduce legislation on Wednesday to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, the speaker’s office said Monday, making a school voucher initiative that Democrats, including Obama, have strongly opposed as a bargaining chip for beginning discussions on the administration’s desired education proposals.

It’s likely that the media won’t say much — or at least won’t say it for long — if this proposal doesn’t go anywhere. That’s to their shame. How the Democratic Party can ever expect to be taken seriously in its self-appointed role as defender of the downtrodden is inexplicable if they don’t take action to heal the wounds of poor minority children whose first, best chance at a better life is crushed beneath the weight of government bureaucracy.

December 1st, 2010 at 4:56 pm
Too Long Without a Chris Christie Update?
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I thought so too. Check out the Trenton Thunder as he takes a shot at the self-interested bureaucrats attempting to stymie his plans for education reform in the Garden State:

October 21st, 2010 at 4:56 pm
Obama’s Choice: Teachers or Children

The news just keeps getting worse for the primary resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  With his party facing historic defeat in the congressional midterms, President Barack Obama should also be worried about the coming crack-up among two vital parts of his base: teachers unions and wealthy liberal donors.  The first wants job protection; the latter better student outcomes.

Their collision course is expertly analyzed by Alvin Felzenberg.  A sample:

We have seen hints of rising tensions between these two elements of the president’s base for over a year. First, there came David Callahan’s “Traitors to their Class: The New Super Rich,” in the New Yorker, an account of how the information-based elites that rallied to Barack Obama break with their fellow Democrats on such matters as free trade, “card check,” and, yes, public sector monopolies over the delivery of education. There was the now infamous District of Columbia mayoral primary, which pit the reformist mayor Adrian Fenty against challenger Vincent Gray. No issue sparked greater controversy than the record of school superintendent Michelle Rhee, who Obama publicly hailed along with Fenty in a televised presidential debate. And no public official prior to Rhee has spent more time thinking of what D.C. children should be taught and evaluated since Thomas Jefferson. While Rhee proved Fenty’s greatest asset in his re-election campaign, the unions clearly did a better job in getting out the vote than did parents whose children benefitted from Rhee’s efforts.

Read the entire article here.

H/T: U.S. News & World Report

October 26th, 2009 at 7:45 pm
Better Living Through Education Cuts
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One of the loneliest titles in American life is “education reformer”. You spend your entire career trying to disrupt entrenched interests, upset a stubborn status quo, and come to grips with an issue that everyone proclaims to care about but no one really acts on.

In recent years, a handful of reformers have started proving themselves at the local level — From Michelle Rhee in Washington D.C. to Joel Klein in New York City and — prior to becoming Secretary of Education (easily the best pick in the Obama Cabinet) — Arne Duncan in Chicago.

Any serious accounting of these figures should also include Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the principal of a series of minority-heavy charter schools in Oakland, California. With a regimen of discipline, back-to-basics academics, and political incorrectness (how many other public schools could get away with extolling the virtues of the free market in their charter?), Dr. Chavis turned one of the lowest performing middle schools in California into one of the top schools in the state in less than a decade.

I’ll be profiling Chavis and other education reformers in a column later this week, but for a taste of his principled irreverence, take a look at this video, where he argues that cutting education budgets is the best thing that could happen to public schools:

Dr. Ben Chavis on Education Budgets

October 2nd, 2009 at 10:50 am
Video: Cracking the Education Monopoly
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This video on school choice is courtesy of ReasonTV.

September 24th, 2009 at 10:09 am
“We Have To Perform Well, Or We Lose Our Charter”
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“We have to perform well, or we lose our charter.  It makes us step up our game.”

Those are the words of Stacey Gauthier, principal of a New York City charter school, explaining why charter schools have so significantly outperformed public schools in a study released this week

The study, by economics Professor Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University, demonstrates that poorer, inner-city students who spent their elementary school years in charter schools excelled compared to counterpart students in New York’s public system.  Remarkably, these charter students’ achievement scores even matched those of more affluent suburban students. 

The reason that Professor Hoxby’s study is particularly enlightening is that critics of charter schools and vouchers typically argue that their students are somehow selected from “the cream of the crop.” According to these apologists for public teachers’ unions, more ambitious students and families are the ones who selectively gravitate to charters.  But Professor Hoxby compared only students who were similarly-motivated: those who actually attend charters versus students who were motivated to seek entry to charters but were denied random lottery applications to do so.

Imagine how much public schools could improve if faced with the choice described by Principal Gauthier – perform well or lose your charter.