Fight For Vouchers, But Think Beyond Them

I love it when good stories are told. And often times, it's good storytelling that makes for persuasive politics. Here's the story of Mercedes Campbell, one of the 1,700 students in the Washington, DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, otherwise known as the school voucher program passed by Congress in 2004. The video was produced by Nick Gillespie and Dan Hayes of Reason.tv.

We all know the why vouchers are good, and we all know the arguments for school choice. Yet, "voucher" seems to be one of the only words coming out of the Right when it comes to education policy. President Obama has already made clear what his policy goals are for energy and health care: cap-and-trade and universal government-mandated coverage, respectively. But he hasn't outlined his plans on education. Now would be a good time for Republicans to get out in front of the President and present him, and voters, with common sense principles and policies on education reform.

Yes, we should fight to save the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. But as great as vouchers are, if all we present to the public is "pro-vouchers," we will once again be struck down by the other side of the aisle as just peddling "old, tired ideas tied to the past eight years."

So what can we do? We should present the public with some simple principles, and ask the President to abide by those principles:

  • More money does not equal better results. Of course, this principle is true of many things government does, but it is especially true in education. Part of the reason the voucher program was created in DC was the fact that DC public schools were receiving one of the highest amounts of funding per pupil, yet had some of the worst results. President Obama might agree with this principle, but I find it hard to believe that he'll be practicing it. We should hold him accountable, and demand specific results: a return on the taxpayers' investment. Speaking of results ...
  • The goal should be to move every child forward instead of "leaving no child behind." The premise of No Child Left Behind was a good one: accountability. Yet the means by which the federal government demanded accountability were bad: federal government control of the metric of success and relying on standardized testing as the baseline. The idea of trying to get every student to meet a certain baseline of knowledge measured by test results flies in the face of the fact not every child learns the same way. What should be measured is whether or not an individual student improved from where he or she was previously, whatever level of knowledge he or she started out with. This should be presented as a principle that is a drastic change from President Bush, therefore one that President Obama should embrace.
  • Schools are more able focus on kids' strengths, not weaknesses, when local control is restored. Usually when the federal government gets too involved in domestic policy, it snuffs out creativity and entrepreneurship in that area. Local control of schools, on the other hand, means more local understanding of the cultural and socioeconomic issues the schools are surrounded by. This usually means more creativity in teaching different types of students and more options for parents, whether it's building special programs for Alaska Native students in the Anchorage School District or allowing folks like Ron Clark to build academies to help disadvantaged students in Harlem and North Carolina. We'll see how much control President Obama is willing to give up.
  • It should be easy to recruit the best teachers, and it should be easy to fire bad teachers. It's a classic battle: common sense vs. teacher union leadership. I'm all for increasing teacher salaries, but school districts around the nation need to have the courage to rethink teacher tenure. Will President Obama agree with treating teachers like professionals?
  • Not every child can, or should, go to college. As Charles Murray said in an NYT op-ed in December, "It’s what you can do that should count when you apply for a job, not where you learned to do it." The overemphasis by public school teachers, counselors and administrators on getting into college leads to a dangerous elitism that can instill a permanent sense of underachievement in many students. I understand that putting this principle into practice will take more cultural change than political action, but it doesn't mean that lawmakers can't make the effort to start the paradigm shift. At the state and local level, more options should be provided to students at the secondary education level so that they can start on a path of learning that suits their learning needs and potential career goals, including charter schools (which President Obama mentioned in his address to Congress.) At the federal level, more can be done to encourage vocational post-secondary education (another policy that Obama should agree with.)

Republican lawmakers on the Hill should offer these principles and corresponding policies to the White House and, for once, get out in front and make the President react to something we present instead of reacting to him. Just as important: like-minded conservatives need to be on the lookout for opportunities and ideas for reform in local school districts, and pay attention to local school board races.

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Comments

One more thing that would help

You wrote that "it should be easy to recruit the best teachers, and it should be easy to fire bad teachers."  While you are absolutely correct that teachers' unions do create problems for the second part (being unable to fire bad teachers), the main reason why unions have so much power is that teacher pay is absolutely atrocious.  Many of the most talented teachers never enter the field or leave after a couple of years because they are being paid at near-poverty levels; those who remain fear that, without unions, their pay would be cut even more significantly.

The solution?  Pay teachers better.  While you are right that simply throwing more money at schools is not the solution, one great way to recruit better teachers is to give them better incentives.  That requires opening up the checkbook enough to make teaching a career that makes raising a family comfortably a legitimate option.  If teacher pay was increased to a decent wage, I guarantee that the flood of students currently overcrowding law schools, business schools, and Ph.D. program would consider teaching as a viable career option. 

Paying teachers decent wages would also, by the way, undercut the appeal of the unions significantly.  Why waste wages in union dues if you have everything they provide already?

Teachers receive...

... an outrageous annual salary for someone that works only 2/3 of the time.

The argument that higher teacher pay brings better teachers needs to be shut down.

The average private school teacher makes $10,000/yr less but gets better results. 

when you get to choose your students

and keep them in classes for longer, then sure, you get better results.

Can we just cancel summer vacation? the teachers get paid jack-shit during it, adn the students actively lose knowledge.

RisingTide...

...as someone who has actually ran for a school board position on a voucher platform, allow me to correct your perception as reflected by your particular point. While I can certainly understand your confusion on the subject of "school choice", the schools don't actually choose their students, it is the students, and in the case of juveniles, their parents, who actually have the choice of schools.

This is not just political double-speak. This is actually ingrained in all voucher legislation. If under a voucher plan, we allowed the schools to choose their students, the benefits of structural competition with our state school system would have been destroyed as well. Indeed, giving schools the power to choose their students is exactly what our present state schools engage in presently. You live at a certain address, you go to a certain state school, period, end of story. This is not an accident. This system may not have been designed to reduce structural competition, but its net effect is to insure that state schools don't have to compete for their students, and thus, the funding that accompanies each student. 

ex animo

davidfarrar

Really?

You consider $30k a year an outrageous salary?  Care to elaborate? 

BWall...

...that is a remarkable low annual salary. Does that figure also include health, drug and dential insurance policies? Does that figure cover 12 months or 10 months? Does that figure include the costs of pension plans?

What is your present cost-per- student, and in what state?

ex animo

davidfarrar 

My wife's salary

 Second-year teacher in Nevada:

12-month salary: $24,000/year

Insurance benefits: medical, no dental - roughly $5,000 value

Matching pension plan: school district will match up to $4k a year; we can only afford $1,000

Average cost-per-student (2006 data): $7,345

On a personal note, I was contemplating becoming a teacher as well, but realized that we would probably have a tough time providing for our kids on two teacher's salaries.  I'm one of the many would-be teachers who has gone into law instead for the money.  There's nothing wrong with being a lawyer (insert your own lawyer joke here), I enjoy it and am able to make a decent living.  My point, though (and acinphx made it better than I will below) is that we believe in the free market: if we want the free market to work, offer appropriate incentives to educators and quality people will come.  My wife is a great teacher and is able to teach because we have my income to fall back on, but many otherwise great teachers do not have that option.

many people who want to teach go into

college education, rather than secondary, because of the pay.

That's becoming a problem, too, though

for an entirely different reason: market saturation.  Currently the number of annual Ph.D candidates in humanities and social sciences is nearly double the number of vacant faculty positions (this doesn't apply for math, hard science, and engineering: like secondary schools, if you're in one of those disciplines, you're pretty well set up). 

yeah, I gotta believe that the humanities folk are rather...

deluded about their own importance.

that, and that creative writing majors do not need to get a phd to write for a living! (sorry. author in the house).

Bullshit

My ex and my brothers are both adjuncts with Masters' (the ex has two Masters).

No one in their right mind would teach college for the pay except for a tenure path.

I work with a second-year apprentice that makes more than either one ( a college drop-out, btw).  He's not likely to ever be a mover and a shaker, but he'll never know want.  Just bought a new boat. 

Okay, BWall...

$24,000 per year...sounds a little low.  The average beginning teacher salary for Nevada, according to most internet sites is $31,703,  which usually doesn't include the two months off annually. So that figure should be around $37,000 per year for beginning educators for a 12 month work year. Add your health insurance benefits and your retirement benefits, another $6,000 per year, and now you are up to approximately $43,000 per year. Not bad for Nevada, as long as you don't live in Las Vegas.

Average Teacher Salary: $46,597.

Average Administrator Salary: $76,050.

Elementary School Principals: $75,144.

Middle School Principals: $80,060

High School Principals: $86,160

ex animo

davidfarrar

I appreciate

your interest in what my wife's income should be.  She teaches at an inner-city middle school (we are in Vegas, by the way), so she is definitely on the lower end of the salary scale.  She's a social studies teacher (which, as RisingTide pointed out, is an overcrowded field), and that's where the opening was.  Teachers at schools like Green Valley and Palo Verde represent the higher end: I know a guy at GVHS who pulls in roughly $65k a year, and he's been teaching for 40 years and is getting close to retirement.  That's pretty good for a teacher, but it's not even close to comparable to what someone who has put in 40 years in a different industry would be making.  

My point, though, is simply this: as acinphx pointed out, many of us don't believe that the government should put caps on the salaries of executives, because capping pay creates a disincentive to get the best people in certain jobs.  The point of Matt Moon's blog that I was responding to was the charge to "recruit the best teachers."  Simply put, one great way to recruit good teachers is to provide incentives for them to come instead of creating disincentives with low salaries.

Most would support higher salaries for teachers...

...provided we offset their raises by slashing pay for "Educational Executives". What exactly does a superintendent do for their 6 figure salary? I normally hate applyling that kind of logic to the salary market. But we're talking about government employees. 

Try Saint Louis

First year teachers there make just under $50k / yr.

Cost of living is relatively low. 

dental isnt' even covered in the federal health plans.

so much for gov't unions, eh?

http://www.teacher-world.com/teacher-salary/west-virginia.html

Tried raising 3 kids on $35,000? ain't pretty, particularly when you're being ripped off at the grocery store every time you visit.

In pa, we've got $53,000 -- which will get you jack shit in philly. I guess there's a reason nobody wants to be a teacher, particularly in the inner city.

The argument that higher

The argument that higher teacher pay brings better teachers needs to be shut down.

Then why all the lamenting about caps on Wall Street bonuses?  Wall Street is wailing that they'll lose all the best talent if they aren't allowed to compete on compensation and generally conservatives back them 100%, with rhetoric decrying the socialist nature of compensation caps.  Are you now saying that the argument that higher banker pay brings better bankers needs to be shut down, in the case of banks relying on taxpayer assistance?

If not, why should the teaching profession be viewed any differently?  If you're nodding along to Wall Street's claim that huge bonuses bring better financial talent, how can you argue that higher teacher pay wouldn't bring better teachers?

The average private school teacher deals largely with a self-selected and school-selected student body.  They're not nearly as bogged down with learning disabled, ESL, special needs students, etc., who tend to bring down average test scores if that's what you're referring to as better results.

 

Yes, and If...

Yes, those hedge fund managers, banking professionals, etc. should be persuaded at every possible turn to engage in a new career-- maybe even doing detail work at the local car wash.  No, they shouldn't have bonuses.  They should be thankful that they have managed to stay out of prison-- for now.

Now, if by "a self-selected and school-selected student body," you mean that they are all Catholics, then ok.  Time to admit that Catholic girls doing something well other than give bj's.  

Vouchers

... are seen by many for what they are:  A way around Teachers' Unions, a way to dismantle our Public School system, and a way to turn over Education to the private and corporate sector.  Exactly what Bush hoped to accomplish with NCLB.

I am all for merit pay, I am all for doing away with tenure, I am all for pre-K, 12-month school, innovation in education, I am all for providing meaningful control to parents in the way their schools reflect their circumstances.

But I am not, and never will be for vouchers.  In spite of what has been stated, when private or charter schools are measured up against public schools, they do not excel.

If you take a sample of the public school students who match up socially and economically with charter school populations, public school kids do just as well or even better.

The difference is that public shools are MANDATED to take learning disabled, emotionally disabled, jailed, homeless, abused, retarded, dysfunctional, all levels and all sorts of kids.  The voucher school and the charter school and the parochial school simply call the parents in for a conference, and tells them to take the kid(s) somewhere else, and that's that.  Problem solved.

And the Problem then starts for the Public School.

got a citation for that?

n/t

So

Why didn't the Obama's put their kids in the DC public school system? Are they not aware that:

In spite of what has been stated, when private or charter schools are measured up against public schools, they do not excel.

Wow did they miss the boat. They could have gotten a better education for their kids for FREE!

 

Good point Lonestar Bill.

If Obama is concerned over the achievement level of state schools, why not put his own children in one, as Pres. Carter did?

ex animo

davidfarrar

Because the Secret Service said no. Can you say Pres. Biden?

 One wingnut got to Baltimore just before the Inaguration with a short or dissasembled assault weapon.  Right after the cab dropped him off,the driver called the constabulary. 

I'd like some evidence of that

(the Secret Service telling Obama his kids couldn't go to public school).

So why didn't they ever go to public schools in Chicago? The Secret Service didn't make that decision too did they?

no need.

not when you've had your daughters lives threatened by people with the means and ability to take them from you, at any point.

I sometimes feel sad for Republicans -- they dont' seem to get how grossly overreaching some of our major corporations have become. Or how stupid.

Ahhhhh

The old "because I say so" argument.

Can''t argue with that.

 

Crow...

...you don't believe that, do you?

As I said, Pres. Carter, if I am not mistaken, sent Amy to public school. It can be done, even over the objection of the Secret Service, if the President wanted it done, and done safely.

ex animo

davidfarrar

So Bush protected the U.S. Homeland

for 7 years after 9/11, but Obama isn't confident the entire Secret Service can protect his kids in the DC public schools?

Amy Carter did go to public schools in DC.

The simple fact is, the schools suck and its well documented. Who would want their kids in the DC public school system? Or more to the point, who wouldn't want to get their kids out of the DC public school system?

Why is Obama killing the voucher program for 1,700 minority kids? Simple elitism? Protecting the teacher's union?

Why does he want to sentence these kids to this future?

Only 9 percent of D.C. public school freshmen will complete college within five years of graduating from high school, a figure far below the national average, according to a report to be released today. Washington Post Oct 2006

 

President Obama has already

President Obama has already made clear what his policy goals are for energy and health care: cap-and-trade and universal government-mandated coverage, respectively. But he hasn't outlined his plans on education.

 

cheers,

Car Accident Compensation

Jim Dandy, please allow me to correct a few of your...

...misconceptions over educational vouchers.

First, there is nothing in any voucher legislation that I am aware of that would preclude teacher unions from organizing in voucher schools.

Secondly, vouchers will allow good, merit-deserving educators to negotiate their salaries as valued "professionals", who, with a strong devoted following, could easily go to another school should the present school not offer the appropriate salary level, and take his/er students with her/im. Try doing this within our present state school system.

Thirdly, allow me to point out the flaw in your argument that voucher schools don't measure up to state schools. If that was, indeed, true, why object to vouchers? Here we have a powerful, state school system that presently covers virtually all public education students, afraid, of an inferior voucher school system?

Fourthly, under a voucher system, schools don't choose their students, it is the students, and in the case of juveniles, their parents, who are given their choice in their learning institutions. Under a voucher system, voucher schools cannot refuse students who have chosen the schools to attend. As you probably know, learning disabled, emotionally disabled, jailed, homeless, abused, retarded, dysfunctional students all usually have larger vouchers as well. So far from refusing students with special needs, voucher school will seek them out by developing effect programs that will fit their needs. 

Lastly, while voucher schools are structurally independent of their local state schools, all are regulated by the state.

ex animo

davidfarrar

Addressing your points:

1.  Nothing in voucher legislation may preclude it, but the schools' bosses will.  Charter schools are almost always organized as non-Union schools.  In Illinois, a Charter Operator, Civitas, went to court to prevent Unionization arguing that Civitas teachers are technically private employees, working for a nonprofit, and are not subject to the state labor board’s jurisdiction, even though the teachers who worked there had completed a card-check procedure that would have let them unionize.

http://catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/index.php/entry/303/Charter_teacher...

2. Vouchers do nothing to help teachers become entrepreneurs in marketing their services.  Without Union representation, teachers are usually lower-paid and have little protection from dismissal, abuse, or oppression.  Remember, Voucher and Charter schools are run FOR PROFIT.

3.  This http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074009.pdf  Is the first-year DoE study that was cited specific to DC.

The Executive Summary says:  "...The main models indicate that the Program generated no statistically significant impacts, positive or negative, on student reading or math achievement for the entire impact sample in year 1. One of the three alternative specifications indicated a positiveand statistically significant math impact of 3.4 scale score points.

• No statistically significant achievement impacts were observed for the high-prioritysubgroup of students who had attended a SINI public school under NCLB beforeapplying to the Program..."

If you read the research, you’d know that DC voucher program in DC is neither popular nor efffective.  In a Zogby poll before it was enacted , 3/4s of DC voters said they opposed it.  Of course, they never had a chance to vote on it - it was imposed by Congress.

Among the highest peforming students, The research shows no improvement in math and only slight improvement in reading, which was matched by a control group of students who were offered, but did not use vouchers.

Among the lowest performing students, there was no improvment in reading or math.

Don’t believe me?  read the research yourself - it’s more than anyone posting here seems to have done.

http://www.nsba.org/MainMenu/A.....Shows.aspx http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20084024.pdf

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20.....094051.pdf

Here   http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/press%20releases/charterschools_RAND_3_09...

is a summary of a new study done by RAND:

A new RAND study examining charter schools in Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee, and the states of Ohio, Texas and Florida is the first to use longitudinal, student-level data to systematically examine these issues across multiple communities and varied charter laws. It finds that:

  • Across locations, there is little evidence that charter schools are producing, on average, achievement impacts that differ substantially from those of traditional public schools. But the evidence is incomplete, because the performance of charter elementary schools -- which constitute a substantial proportion of all charter schools -- cannot be easily assessed.

  • There is reason for concern about low performance among two specific groups of charter schools: charter schools in their first year of operation; and, in Ohio, “virtual” charter schools that serve students remotely via technology rather than in a conventional school building.

  • The most promising results for charter schools relate to the long-term outcomes of high-school graduation and college entry. In the two locations with available data on these critical attainment outcomes (Chicago and Florida), charter high schools appear to have substantial positive impacts, increasing the probability of graduating by 7 to 15 percentage points and increasing the probability of enrolling in college by 8 to 10 percentage points. 

  • Across seven locations examined, charter schools are generally not “skimming the cream” in recruiting students: Students entering charter schools generally have prior achievement levels that are comparable to those of their peers in traditional public schools.

  • Across locations, charter schools do not appear to produce effects that substantially help or harm student achievement in nearby traditional public schools

“Previous conclusions about the academic effectiveness of charter schools have been premature. In most states, the effectiveness of charter elementary schools cannot be determined with existing data. And we need to find out if charter schools across the country are improving graduation and college entry rates, as they seem to be doing in Chicago and Florida. If charter schools are substantially improving their students’ long-term attainment outcomes, this could be far more important than any test-score results,” added report author Brian Gill, senior social scientist and associate director of research at Mathematica Policy Research.

 

Public school officials and teachers aren't afraid of competing with voucher schools, they are afraid that voucher schools will drain badly-needed public shool taxpayer dollars into for-profit schools which use non-union labor.

4.  You have no idea in the world just how difficult and expensive and troublesome it is to start a Special-Education program, anywhere. 

The regulations for compliance with ADA and other Federal, State, and Local regulations are difficult to set in place, licensed and certified professionals are hard to find and keep because of high burn-out and attrition rate.

Just off the top of my heasd, you would have to set up and organize a special-needs bus and transportation system, beef up security, organize space, and if you were to lump in the performance of your special-needs populations into a school-wide report card, guess what?  Your school's numbers would look a lot like the Public School down the block's. 

Even if their vouchers are somewhat larger, you cannot build a railroad for three or four passengers.  ONE Special-needs student may need the services, which by law, MUST BE SUPPLIED, of a speech pathologist, school psychologist, substance-abuse professional, domestic abuse intervention specialist, special-needs paraprofessional, licensed Special-Ed teachers, Special-Ed counselors, and an in-school assessment team to update and maintain their Individualized Education Program, usually done every year, and mandated every three, and all these must make records of their progress in his files.

Charter and Voucher schools do not want, look for, or seek out special-needs students.  They avoid them whenever possible, and usually accept them only when mandated.

 

Seperate issues here

Staying with the voucher program in DC, the research you refer to shows that:

1)Parent satisfaction has increased.

2)Reading scores have increased significantly after just three years.

3)This program costs about half of what a public school education costs in DC, saving the district thousands and thousands of dollars per student.

Charter schools are a completely different issue, and are not a part of the voucher program.

You do not address the fact that the DC schools are failing by any measure. Do you think that there would be  need for a voucher program or charter schools if the School Board and the Teacher's Union had been doing their jobs for the past several decades?

You say that:

Public school officials and teachers aren't afraid of competing with voucher schools, they are afraid that voucher schools will drain badly-needed public shool taxpayer dollars into for-profit schools which use non-union labor.

First-the$7,500 scholarships are significantly less than the near $14,000 per student the district spends.

Second-The DC schools were failing long before the voucher program was established. By any measurement, the DC public schools are at the high end of spending per stundent. This idea that more money invested in a broken model will fix the problem is absurd. Are you saying that recouping the $18 million spent on the voucher program will be the difference between a successful DC public school system and one that continues to fail miserably? You gotta be kidding! 

On charter schools in DC-they are outperforming the district schools, and Obama wants to expand them.

The DC Public School system has failed. And it seems to be the Teacher's Union that wants to continue with business as usual.

Homeschooling

Encouraging and de-regulating homeschooling would be a step in the right direction.

http://www.tothepointtees.com/cgi-bin/tothepointtees/PageDisplay?Blog

because specialization is not for industrialized countries!

lalala, let's make sure that all women are required to be teachers! and then let's say that they don't have to teach anything!

okay, so that's a strawman. How often do two-income families homeschool?

Go look yourself in the mirror

...and punch yourself in the face several times for being such an asshole. 

 Vouchers... are seen by

 

Vouchers... are seen by many for what they are:  A way around Teachers' Unions, a way to dismantle our Public School system, and a way to turn over Education to the private and corporate sector.  Exactly what Bush hoped to accomplish with NCLB-Jim Dandy

Dismantle our public school system? Looks like the DC Public Schools have dismantled themselves.The system is hopelessly broken, sentencing tens of thousands of children to a substandard education. I understand that in your mind, the interests of the Teacher's Unions is paramount, but I prefer to protect the educational opportunity of the kids.Or maybe its OK with you because most are poor and minority students, and its "good enough for them". Teachers that can't teach in a system that is broken needs to be changed. Time Magazine has a very interesting article about the DC School Chancellor, Michelle Rhee and her attempts at reform. From the article:

The U.S. spends more per pupil on elementary and high school education than most developed nations. Yet it is behind most of them in the math and science abilities of its children. Young Americans today are less likely than their parents were to finish high school. This is an issue that is warping the nation's economy and security, and the causes are not as mysterious as they seem. The biggest problem with U.S. public schools is ineffective teaching, according to decades of research. And Washington, which spends more money per pupil than the vast majority of large districts, is the problem writ extreme, a laboratory that failure made.

 

Tell me more about the unions? They protect this system. Maybe its time to "get around them".

Chancellor Rhee was shot down by the teachers union on this proposal:

 IN THE VIEW OF RHEE AND REFORMERS like her, the struggle to fix America's failing school system comes down to a simple question: How do you get the best teachers and principals to work in the worst schools? In her quest to figure this out, Rhee has already suffered a major setback. Earlier this year, she proposed a revolutionary new model to let teachers choose between two pay scales. They could make up to $130,000 in merit pay on the basis of their effectiveness--in exchange for giving up tenure for one year. Or they could keep tenure and accept a smaller raise. (Currently, the average teacher's salary in Washington is $65,902.) The proposal divided the city's teachers into raging, blogging factions. This fall, the union declined to put Rhee's proposal to a vote, and its relationship with her has become increasingly hostile.

Who would turn down doubling their salary in exchange for giving up tenure? Probably the slackers that know they can't compete with the best and brightest teachers that would be drawn to DC, and have to hide behind the union to maintain employment. The proposal is no different than what most of us face in the business world everyday: produce, or be replaced.

This is pathetic guys, and the fact that Obama would allow one of the few programs that is working in the DC schools to be eliminated in the name of "protecting the unions" is unconscionable.

What do Republicans think about Open Enrollment schools?

I'm a fan. They’re like magnet schools, but without the premature educational specialization.

The idea is that students can attend any school in the state, so long as the school has space & parents provide transportation. The state buses students to their assigned school. If the assigned school sucks, conscientious parents can make arrangements to get their kids to a quality school. The elite schools fill up fast. But the mediocre schools are still much better than failed schools.

Your average American hates seeing children in failed schools. Parents routinely lie to the government about their residence for the sake of their child’s education. Forced to choose between government & their children, parents always choose their children. We should respect that.

Liberals attempted to address school inequality with Forced Bussing. Their hearts were in the right place. But as usual, we couldn’t ease poverty by spreading it out. White-flight suburbanites feared the new students were urban thugs. Black urbanites saw no change, aside from a much longer bus ride to & from school.

Open Enrollment would ease concerns about thugs. Yes, urban kids would be able to attend their nice suburban schools. But Open Enrollment parents are self-selected by the value they place on education. They don't raise thugs.

Many urban parents value education yet still want the diversity of an urban school. Great! They can send their kids to a quality urban school. That’s the whole point, parents know best.

So your number one bullet point is:

"More money does not equal better results." Wow! Just, wow! Good thing Republicans are consistent on message. Nothing says strong believer in capitalism and fiscal conservative like the statement, "more money does not equal better results." Our deficit problem is solved! Now that more money does not equal better results, we can raise corporate taxes and balance the budget. I've heard more than my share of cognitive dissonance coming from the right, but this statement takes the cake. Unless of course this is coming from the party of the ultra-wealthy, then there is no disconnect here, and teachers making squat is fine. However, as, supposedly, the party of capitalism where everyone, including teachers, can live the American dream, why flex rigid ideology for teachers' salaries but not for unionization? Both issues (salary and unionization) need to be balanced carefully, and some compromises must be made.

Other than that ridiculous point, I actually agree with most of the points here. Just like the teachers, poorly performing students shouldn't be rewarded either, but that is what the voucher system does. Most versions of the system reward students of more affluent parents regardless of how their kid preforms. A true scholarship program would be much more appropriate. Students need to be accountable for their own performance no matter how much mommy and daddy make. But unless you take private money out of the equation, this will always be the case; the highest bidder wins. The place for monitary competition is between schools, not between students.

Add to the list that schools need more carrot and less stick. There were already enough sticks being used before NCLB and the barrage of additional standardized tests that existed, and now there are even more. If you want performance from 12-year-olds, you need to offer rewards that can be understood and appreciated by 12-year-olds. Telling them that they must pass a standardized test only encourages mediocrity.

There are a lot of good ideas that those in the middle and on the left could agree with, but as long as you frame the issue that it's "common sense vs. teachers union leadership" and suggest that teacher's get paid more than enough, don't expect anyone in education to listen to you. Nothing makes your opponent want to come to your side like telling them that they're not worth what they're getting paid and bashing the one person that's watching their back. Tone down the rhetoric and you might get a seat at the table.

For the record

More money = better results  (if you are talking about salaries).

Throwing more money at a broken school system will not help.(buildings, equipment)

But, the teacher unions in DC would rather have tenure than money. They have literally blocked the opportunity for teachers to become 6 figure wage earners.

 

Start offering $130K a year to all new & existing teachers.

Then see what kind of talent that attracts. The unions and tenure won't even be issues because you'll be able to attract a talent pool so wide that you can cherry pick the best performers from the get go, before they have union protection or tenure. It won't be an overnight solution. But the bad teachers hiding behind tenure and the unions will eventually retire and be replaced, even if they do get overpaid in the meantime. $60K may seem like a lot, but not in DC where the cost of living is high and the working conditions are far from ideal, so there is going to be a legacy of not attracting the best talent. And the teachers know that getting $130K to teach to some arbitrary standard isn't the answer anyway, so it's no surprise that the idea was rejected. I'm not advocating the "throw money at it" solution, but it disproves the theory that additional money wouldn't help to solve the problem. There's a limit to how much money helps; some of your best teachers are not going to be swayed by money alone, if at all.

On top of that, you can't use D.C. as an example for everything. The schools in Alabama and Arizona are plenty bad for different reasons. Magnet school solutions that work in the few tens of square miles of D.C. are not going to work in the rural areas in Alabama. Fast population growth in Arizona and Nevada leaves an exhausted talent pool and means that large amounts of money must be invested in new infrastructure and not invested in attracting quality teachers from elsewhere. On top of that, transient populations inhibit cohesive lesson planning. Arizona's 3% annual growth rate presents vastly different challenges than the minimal 0.4% rate in D.C. Citing one specific example hardly proves a point.

The unions and tenure won't

The unions and tenure won't even be issues because you'll be able to attract a talent pool so wide that you can cherry pick the best performers from the get go, before they have union protection or tenure. It won't be an overnight solution.

That was the idea, but its already been rejected. By the union.In DC.  Read up.

On top of that, you can't use D.C. as an example for everything.

Kind of what we're talking about, isn't it?

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