Wednesday, July 9, 2008

School choice is popular

The two lead letters to the editor this morning in The Oklahoman call for more school choices in Oklahoma. The first letter is from Bob Holland, senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute:
Competition would ensure good choices

"Multiple choices: Marketplace challenges public schools" (Our Views, July 6) noted that in many parts of Oklahoma, families effectively have no school choice. Then you discussed various ways the market is generating education choices—public charter schools, cyber schools and homeschooling. Perhaps that's not as contradictory as it first appears: There are choices, but they're spotty.

Suppose Oklahoma did fund the child instead of the system and all parents could choose public or private schools for their children. Don't you think public and private schools would be challenged to demonstrate that they do superior jobs of educating kids? Competition would ensure good choices for all.

Robert Holland, Chicago

The next letter is from Karla Dial, managing editor of School Reform News:

School choice popular

Thank you for the excellent "Multiple choices: Marketplace challenges public schools" (Our Views, July 6). According to a recent poll by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, if all educational options were placed on the table, 83 percent of Oklahomans would choose something other than their local public school for their children. That's consistent with surveys of parents in other states as well—96 percent of Idahoans said the same.

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Senate supported a bill to create a tax-credit scholarship program to give parents greater access to some of those non-public school options. The bill was defeated in a House committee in late April. Perhaps if this is resurrected in the next session, this poll will give legislators enough reason to vote differently. Obviously, school choice is popular with the people who put them in office.

Karla Dial, Colorado Springs, Colo.

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