Parents should have school choice; vouchers and charters should not be among them. (rough draft)

Parents should have the choice of home schooling, sending
their kids to private school or to public school. And say they don’t like what
is happening in their neighborhood school the opportunity to get in there to
make it better. Charter schools and vouchers should not be an option. 
The Public School System is designed to benefit all of us,
whether we have children attending a public school or not, to dilute its
resources and by sending children to substandard options which is what charter
schools and private schools that accept vouchers are, harms us all.
First let me say there are undoubtedly high quality charter
schools and even I think charter schools have a role to play but just as a
supplement to our public schools not as a replacement for them.
Most people don’t know it but Albert Shanker a very liberal
union leader coined the concept. Now demonized by most charter school
proponents, he envisioned charter schools as parent teacher driven laboratories
where new and innovative techniques could be tried free off the
sometimes-stifling constraints of the public school system. To be honest that
doesn’t sound bad. Teachers today are forced to spend so much time on zone
plans, word walls and standards based bulletin boards that the time they have
to teach and make connections is limited.
The problem however is here in Florida Charter schools are
more profit centers than schools. They are run by corporations who care more
about the bottom line than what happens to their students. Furthermore numerous
members of the Florida Legislature are making a lot of money off of them.
Another intended consequence is they are used to weaken the power of the
teacher’s unions, as they are not union shops. This has salary, benefit,
pension and working conditions ramifications. Some of you might not like the
unions but our schools would be much worse off without them because without
them you couldn’t find anybody to work in our schools.  
Finally about Charters despite huge advantages they are not
performing as well as public schools at least in Florida and that should be a
huge red flag. The truth is they should be killing public schools but they
aren’t and even if you love charter schools that should concern you.
Then there are vouchers. I also think they have a limited role
to play. If a kid needs a certain program and a public school doesn’t provide
it by a private school does, then a voucher should be allowed, however just
because you don’t like public schools isn’t a good enough reason. The public
should not subsidize that choice. Furthermore private schools benefit form the
same advantages as charter schools including picking whom they take and despite
that, private school attendees who use vouchers don’t perform any better than
their public school counterparts.
Imagine a three-ray race where one runner is blindfolded and
has their shoes tied together, public schools, and the other two charter
schools and vouchers, were free of any constraints. The results of the race
would be public schools tied with vouchers and charter schools coming in last.
It boggles the mind that some people think public schools are failing and
choice will save the school system.
We are pouring money into charters and vouchers not so kids
can get a better education but so legislators and their friends and family
members, and so corporations can make a buck. 

By no stretch of the imagination am I saying public
schools are perfect. There are lots of problems but at the end of the day the
solution is to fix those problems and make them better not to outsource our kid’s
education to substandard options.  

One Reply to “Parents should have school choice; vouchers and charters should not be among them. (rough draft)”

  1. Charter schools are called schools of choice, but all I see here in Georgia is that they kill off the other option. If the there isn't another option is there really a choice?

    Charter schools here are also using enrollment controls some above board others sneaky games to weed out the unwanted students. Like accepting a student two days before summer break, then putting their brother ahead of of other students for next year's enrollment.

    I am not sure what you are pitching here, but the machine is broken and few people really understand what is happening. Charter or Public.

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