Friday, January 27, 2017

School Choice or Public-Education Abandonment?

Everyone has the right to a free public education – THAT’S IT! No more or no less.

Just as when the United States was created, the Constitution of Texas also allows for the right of a free public education through high school. It also allows parents the right to put their children in a private school and/or to home school if they so choose (at their own expense).

These days we are seeing an even bigger push away from the public education system in favor of other alternatives. Alternatives such as Private Schools (religious or secular), Charter Schools, Alternative Schools, and Home Schooling. All of these options have their positive attributes and all have shown to have positives as well as negatives.

Which is right for you or your children? It’s hard to say because each child, and each family is different. Are public Schools broke? That depends on which schools you look at, but it has as much to do with the community around that school system as it does the school itself.

Not a single school system can be successful without community/parental involvement in the education process. Schooling our children is an active process. It must involve the parents as much as it does the children and the teachers. Unfortunately, far too many parents only become involved in the education process when there is a problem. Far too many parents are absent from their child’s daily school life.

Regardless of the many issues facing Public Education, removing resources from the public education system is not the way to handle the issue. Our problems with public education have come from the state and federal government confusing oversight with micromanagement.

Unfunded mandates, mandatory testing, and financial manipulation by the state and federal government are the root causes of the educational failure in this country and this state; furthermore, robbing the public education system of more resources will not change that. Stripping away at these resources will only serve to deteriorate the already frail inner-city schools, weaken strong schools, and steal from the small-town local education that is a key part of the very fabric of rural Texas.

I hear many folks say that they want to use the tax money they pay for public schools to pay for a private school for their children. OKAY, but there are so many flaws with that system. First, take me for instance; let’s say I pay roughly $500.00 a year in school taxes on my home. That hardly seems enough were I to elect to send my child to a private school, or to home school them. But I have/had 4 kids in school at one time – YEAP – No Where Near Enough!!!

But what if the state or federal government gave me something like the $4,500.00 a year voucher or credit such as Indiana gives out? That sounds great too; however, what about all the hidden fees associated with private schools or home schools. There’s uniforms, books, lunches (no free lunches in private schools or home schools), equipment fees, extracurricular fees, and facility fees to name a few. I doubt that voucher would cover all that.

Then there’s testing! Yeap, testing is an inevitable part of accepting public money. What about the fact that once private schools accept public money they will most likely no longer have the ability to select the enrollment of certain students over others as they do now. Oh the strings that come with accepting “government” money!!!

In all honesty, vouchers tend to favor people who can already afford private schools. Vouchers help to offset their costs. But vouchers really won’t make much of an impact on those who are most affected by the failing public education system.

Instead of stealing resources from public education might I suggest a few items that will make things better:
1.       More emphasis on local control and less (Or No) emphasis on Mandatory testing!
2.       More emphasis on vocational and agricultural education.
3.       Appropriate emphasis on college prep.
4.       Less emphasis on athletics. Do we really need $60 million-dollar football stadiums?

The problems that plague out public-school system can be summed up with the following: Testing over Learning, Athletics over Academics, College Preparedness over Vocational/Agricultural Education, and Parental/Community Management over Government Controls.

Vouchers, Credits, etc. won’t fix that.

Want to know more? When was the last time you asked public school teachers about this?

I bet it’s been too long!



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