Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Turn: Freedom of choice is the future of education | Concord Monitor

My Turn: Freedom of choice is the future of education | Concord Monitor

It is always nice to see a public school teacher who understands what is in the best interests of the children and does not have in mind to protect union jobs and a broken system.  The below piece appears in full on the Concord Monitor. 


My Turn: Freedom of choice is the future of education

The United States spends more per pupil on
education than any other country in the world. But our public schools
have failed our children. U.S. companies are dependent on
foreign-educated programmers, engineers and gene splicers, while the
“labor participation rate” of the U.S. population is only 63 percent. We
have millions of potential jobs, and millions of unemployed U.S.
citizens without the skills for those jobs. The gap is caused by schools
that don’t work.

Meanwhile, the $67 billion U.S.
Department of Education is launching yet another leviathan program to
force all children to learn exactly the same things in the same way at
the same time. Do all children really learn the same way, and develop at
the same speed? Are all children going to have the same career? Does an
economy really need 330 million clones, or is diversity what makes Adam
Smith’s “division of labor” work?

Nevada’s Republican legislature and
governor have decided to go directly against Common Core conformism and
give all their state’s children a chance to succeed in their own way. On
June 2, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the first universal school-choice
bill in the United States. The bill’s principal sponsor was Sen. Scott
Hammond, a Las Vegas Republican and Nevada public school teacher.

Under the bill, a low-income family can
receive $5,700 per year per child for an “Education Savings Account.”
Any Nevada family above the low-income level can receive $5,100 per year
per child.

These amounts will sound low to New
Hampshire residents. We spent $16,246 per pupil in the 2013 school year.
But Nevada’s public schools cost only $8,339 per pupil in 2013, and the
average Nevada private high school spent only $8,664 per pupil this
year. So a $5,100 ESA will make many private schools affordable to
working Nevada parents.
Nevada’s legislature has left the maximum
amount of flexibility in the plan. In addition to traditional private
schools, parents can use their ESAs to pay for custom-designed
educational programs for each child. The ESA can fund tutoring, Internet
courses, AP, CLEP, university entrance or other tests. Parents can use
it for curriculum materials. It can even be used to pay for dual-credit
courses at Nevada colleges.

The Nevada plan will let every parent in
Nevada use every educational resource. Instead of walling off students
from the resources of the colleges in their own towns, and from the
massive education resources of the Internet, Nevada is opening the
school walls and bringing in the whole world.

For those who stay within the walls, the
Nevada plan raises the per-pupil funding for public schools. Every child
that takes a $5,100 ESA is leaving $3,239 behind to contribute to the
public system. Many parents will choose to add some of their own money
to their ESA funds in order to use a particular school or other
educational resource. Nevada’s Republicans are using school choice to
pump more money into better education, instead of just making an
outdated bureaucracy bigger and more expensive.

School choice is nothing new
internationally. The Netherlands has had its school choice program since
1917. About 70 percent of students in the Netherlands go to a wide
variety of private schools. Sixteen percent of Denmark’s children go to
private schools. Sweden has had school vouchers for more than 20 years.
So have Australia and New Zealand.

Unlike the United States, Canada scored
above most of the European countries on the PISA tests. Parents in
Canada have had publicly funded school choice since the 1800s. In the
province of Alberta, less than half the students go to the
geographically closest school. Canadian parents can choose their school
for the best fit to the child, not for the convenience of the

This is what Nevada has done. It has
given power back to the parents and opened a limitless world of
opportunities for their children. We in the “Live Free or Die” state
must do the same. Adding more bureaucracy and centralized control to
schools is just subsidizing failure. Diversity, innovation and freedom
of choice are the future of education, and of the world.

"The United States has more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs vacant
because there aren't enough qualified people to fill them." Referenced
in Samuel L Blumenfeld & Alex Newman, Crimes of the Educators How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children

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