Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Choice just for choices sake is a bad choice.
The JPEF’s study on school choice was very enlightening.
The study pointed out that it couldn’t even evaluate the quality between public schools and private schools that take vouchers. I think that should enrage even the most ardent supporter of vouchers. It means we are giving money to these schools and at the end of the day we really have no idea how they are doing. It also blows a hole in accountability doesn’t it? Why is accountability a necessity for public schools but draws a collective shrug when applied to private schools that take public money?
Then the study mentions how choice options are draining tens of millions of dollars away from the district, something JPEF doesn’t seem all that concerned about. This loss of resources has a huge effect on class size, getting those kids that need extra help those resources and a whole host of other things. Despite that JPEF suggests we double down on more choice options which will siphon even more money away.
Most of this money is diverted to charter schools which have exploded over the last five years. At no time does the report mention many are run by for profit management companies and as a group perform worse than their public school counterparts, a fact one can plainly see if they visit JPEFs web-site.
The study makes no effort to tell us which option is better. I mean isn’t that the question we really want answered, are charters and voucher schools better than public schools or vice versa. If one of the options is better should we really be funneling our children into the worse option just so we can say parents had a choice? It’s almost like the JPEF doesn’t want the answer, which really isn’t all that surprising.
You see I don’t think it should be lost on anybody that the board of the JPEF is made up of numerous charter school operators and pro-choice advocates. Their money bank rolled the findings, which are basically
1. School choice doesn't produce better results.
2. We need more school choice.
3. School choice hurts the district
4. Who cares we need more school choice
5. We have no idea which choice is better.
6. Haven’t you been listening? WE NEED MORE SCHOOL CHOICE!
Finally the sample size they used to come up with their recommendations was 1,000 caregivers and parents, not much when you consider the 130 thousand students that attend both public schools and charter schools, then add another 20 thousand private and home school children. This means the potential sample size was a quarter million parents and care givers and the study barely reached half of one percent of them. While they are making their policy recommendations that is not mentioned at all.
I think we do need more school choice options. We need more schools like Frank Peterson, A. Phillip Randolph, and the academic and arts magnet schools but what we don’t need are more voucher schools and charters especially when one under performs and the other is set up so we have no idea how they are doing. What they really represent is privatization.
Choice just for choices sake is a bad choice and the answer is to fix the problems in our public schools and give them the resources they need to succeed not to further drain their resources and outsource our kids’ education to as a group substandard choices.
Without a doubt I believe public schools are by far the best thing going and that’s even with all the obstacles put in front of them. The thing is even if you disagree shouldn’t we be having an honest debate? Shouldn’t we be looking to facts and evidence to make our decisions? Instead Jacksonville gets the self-serving report by a think tank financed by charter school operators and pro choice fanatics