Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Education

When my husband served for a year in Iraq, we used his extra pay to send our kids to private school because our local schools back home were overcrowded and underfunded. When looking at school vouchers and private charter schools from a purely self-interested point-of-view, it is easy to like the idea of having help sending our children to the private school of our choice in such a situation. But, when you scratch beneath the service, it leads to some very concerning issues and questions.

The reason Obama required all people to buy health insurance was to ensure the pool of insured was large enough to even out costs. If healthy people avoided buying insurance until they were diagnosed with a major health problem, insurance companies would be left covering largely only the most expensive to cover. Now, let us think about this issue in terms of our schools.

Under school choice programs, the money follows the child. The money can follow the child to a private school.

Who sets private school admission policies? Would such schools be required to admit students with disabilities? If not, what happens to such students? If those with IEPs are not able to gain admission to one of these publicly funded private schools, our public schools are going to be left providing for those students. Just like the insurance pool, our schools will be left with much less money to support those with greater needs.

There are many other questions to consider as well. Who sets the standards for education for each of these schools? Would private religious schools, accepting state and federal money, guarantee that the education provided meets the standards for separation of church and state? Who sets the tuition rates? Would such schools be required to admit students who cannot pay beyond state and federal funds provided? Who determines where such schools are located? Would such schools be equally distributed across communities? Would rural communities have such options? Would lower income communities have such options? Or would we end-up finding such schools targeting higher income areas? How does this help our society improve? The best thing we can do to make America great is to provide quality education for ALL of our children! I fear school choice works against that goal.

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