Monday, April 21, 2014
Parents doing the dirty work for Step up for Studnets
Step up for Students is having parents do their dirty work for them. Another parent goes to bat for them in the Ocala Star-Banner , http://www.ocala.com/article/20140420/OPINION/140419646/- which means another parent asks us to subsidize her choice ignoring the fact her choice hurts us all.
When criticizing the Florida Parent Teacher Association for fighting for all children and families including hers, what Chanae Jackson-Baker is really doing is asking us to subsidize her choice to put her children in a private school.
As a parent I can understand that she is doing what she feels best even if she fails to acknowledge that private schools that take vouchers in Florida are the wild west of education. Their teachers don’t have to be certified or even have degrees for that matter. Their curriculums don’t have to be regulated and many teach creationism as science and then despite their assertion that there is accountability, there is no way to measure it as they are required to take a norm referenced test rather than the states.
I spoke with David Figilo the states experts on vouchers and he said as a group students in private schools that take vouchers don’t perform any better than their public school counterparts. He went on to tell me there were some really excellent private schools that take vouchers, mostly religious schools, but there were some very poor ones too. I would like to add private schools that take vouchers can pick who they take and keep and can put requirements on parents something public schools can’t do.
The Parent Teacher association however has a different responsibility than an individual parent and that’s to look at the overall health of our public schools something through the siphoning away of resources is hurt by vouchers. They understand that public schools are here to benefit all of us whether we have children attending them or not. They recognize that we should all want them to be as strong as possible and recognize the dilution of resources hurts us all.
Then there are lots of reasons why people might oppose the expansion of vouchers too. First for religious reasons, it doesn’t just blur the line between church and state it obliterates it. Then there is accountability, that John East and many voucher supporters’ fight against. They may take a test but there is no direct comparison between how voucher kids and public school kids are doing. Then it annually siphons hundreds of millions out of public schools, which are already starved for resources, and out of the tax base that goes to pay for other state services.
She also got a few things wrong. If Step up for Students gets their way, the values of the scholarships will go up to over six thousand dollars and the income of families eligible will exceed sixty thousand dollars. Then she never mentions that Step up for Students management fees will triple from around 8 to around 24 million dollars and that’s a year.
Vouchers undoubtedly do help a few students but if we are being honest how many students couldn’t get the same services in their public schools. Should the public really be forced to fund someone’s religious choice, distrust of “gov’ment” schools or irrational hatred of teacher unions? Should we really be handicapping the many to help a few? Should we really be subsidizing Chanae Jackson-Bakers choice, which may or may not help her, but hurts us all?