Friday, August 14, 2015

'Leave our funds alone'

When it comes to parental choice policies, Mr. Tracy Borden of Vici, Oklahoma, is "NOT interested!"

This according to a message he sent to us over at the Choice Remarks Facebook page. "My boys are getting a good education in a school they like," he writes. "I am a school board member, and teach at a Tech Center. Leave our funds alone."

A few thoughts. First, it seems to me that Mr. Borden is a school-choice success story, both as a parent and as a teacher. Remember, many parents have concluded that choosing a public school is the best choice. Indeed, even in states with the most robust school-choice programs, the overwhelming majority of parents still choose a public school for their children. Moreover, Mr. Borden teaches in a school of choice. As Oklahoma's former CareerTech boss Bob Sommers once reminded me, career-tech schools were actually the first charter schools.

Next, I would suggest that, as a school board member, Mr. Borden owes it to his constituents to be open to policies which improve the public schools. (Yes, the empirical evidence shows that school choice improves public schools.) According to the Global Report Card, which compares American school districts to 25 developed countries, Vici students scored at the 44th percentile in math and the 33rd percentile in reading. If, for example, you picked up the Vici school district, airlifted it north and plopped it down in Canada, the average Vici student would be at the 36th percentile in math and the 24th percentile in reading. If Vici were relocated to Finland, the average Vici student would be at the 29th percentile in math and the 20th percentile in reading. So it's conceivable that parents in Vici would like to have more educational options for their children (which, yes, is possible even in rural areas).

Lastly, there's this notion of "our funds." That truly is the mindset of many folks in the monopoly school system: that it's their money. Whereas parental-choice supporters believe policymakers should fund the children, too many of the status-quo folks believe policymakers should fund the system. I commend to your attention a short piece Andrew Spiropoulos and I wrote about this topic here.

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