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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

School choice advocates are really thumping thier chests now!

School choice is a hot issue and some people have even attributed the results of the recent election to it. I disagree thinking it was more a flawed candidate, not running against Rick Scott but instead running against a very unpopular president in a mid-term election where turn out is generally low. I think there was a fair amount of apathy and ignorance going on too. I believe if people really cared about the future of education and took the time to be informed very few would support school choice advocates.

Feeling emboldened and using misleading talking points “school choice” backers are now coming out of the wood work attacking organizations like the state’s School Board association.

First it is both reprehensible and disingenuous to say the school board association is attempting to handicap and hold back poor and mostly minority students. The school board association has been a leader in fighting for more and equitable resources, against the high stakes testing culture which is sucking the oxygen out of education and against the accountability system which tells just one thing a schools zip code, as those schools in the poorer zip codes invariably perform worse on standardized tests which to Tallahassee is the only metric that matters.

Here is the thing that most school choice advocates, many who have sold the failing public school narrative and supported policies that handicap public schools won’t tell you and that’s their true aim is to privatize and replace our public schools and the options they are selling perform much worse.

Let’s look at private schools that take vouchers. They resist accountability like that rather than educating children was their jobs. Accountability is a buzz word when it comes to public schools but it is practically non-existent with voucher schools. They don’t have to have certified teachers, recognized curriculums, and the vast majority don’t even have to report how the money they get is spent. Why is accountability paramount for public schools but gets a collective shrug when talking about private schools that take vouchers.

Then there are charter schools of which over 260 have taken public money and closed leaving families and communities in a lurch. Many are also for profit and that not what is best for their students drive their policies and finally they are bringing back segregation driving a wedge between communities. This attractive concept has been co-opted by privatizers and modern day pirates looking to make a buck and our children are paying the price for it.

Then despite for the most part being able to pick and choose who these choice options take and keep and being able to put requirements on parents neither charter schools nor private schools that take vouchers are performing better. With those tremendous advantages they should be killing public schools but they are not.

Also where is the concern for poor and mostly minority children when it comes to going to college? The huge cuts to bright futures which have basically coincided with the rise of vouchers. These cuts will stop tens of thousands of poor and mostly minority children form going to college and reaching their full potential but like how accountability gets a shrug that too gets a shrug from school choice advocates.

School choice is a complicated issue and the people looking to privatize our schools or profit off of them or who have an irrational fear of gov’ment schools and unions shouldn’t be the ones we are listening to or be allowed to drive policy. Choice simply for the sake of choice is a bad choice and if the people pushing for more really cared about our children they would push for high quality, not for profit, accountable options, but they aren’t and that should really tell you all you need to know.

Finally I think the answer should be to improve our public schools, to give them adequate resources and not to saddle them with stifling, untested and often unreasonable policies. Then use high quality choice schools whose main goal is not to make a profit and who don’t resist accountability to supplement them. Or you know the exact opposite of what we are doing now.   

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