Skip to comments.Fly-By-Night Public Schools
Posted on 05/21/2002 5:32:12 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
If you want to know about the problems facing public schools, here's a hint: Just listen to what public school defenders warn could happen as a result of school choice. It turns out that their criticisms reflect problems inherent in public schools.
Among the many charges made against school choice are (1) that school choice, and vouchers in particular, lead to "segregation" of schools; (2) that self-interested parties will run fly-by-night "voucher schools" that don't educate children; and (3) that school choice programs are not accountable to taxpayers.
First, does school choice lead to segregation? Leon Russell of the Florida branch of the NAACP says so: "Vouchers encourage segregation." Former North Carolina governor James Hunt has claimed that vouchers create a "separate and unequal system." NAACP president Kweisi Mfume warns that vouchers could "allow our nation's schools to be divided once again by skin color." David Berliner of Arizona State University has dramatically claimed, "Voucher programs would allow for splintering along racial and ethnic lines. Voucher programs could end up resembling the ethnic cleansing occurring in Kosovo."
Segregation? Schools divided by skin color? A separate but unequal system? That certainly sounds like the public school system. The Civil Rights Project at Harvard's Graduate School of Education has found that 70 percent of the nation's black students now attend predominately minority public schools, with 36 percent of the nation's black students attending schools with a minority enrollment of 90-100 percent. Researcher Jay Greene found in a national study that 55 percent of children in public schools attended classes where 90 percent of students came from a single ethnic group. In comparison, 41 percent of private school students attended schools with similar conditions. The alleged "resegregation" caused by school choice is occurring in places where vouchers are still just a rumor.
A second common allegation is that school choice programs would allow "anyone" to open "instant" or "fly-by-night" schools. Most recently, in a union-paid advertisement in national newspapers, Bob Chase of the nation's largest union for teachers wrote that the prospect of such schools opening makes him "shudder." Yet, he won't shudder for the next two months as numerous public schools across the country hand out fraudulent diplomas.
The difference between fly-by-night public schools and fly-by-night private schools is that fly-by-night private schools are accurately described-they truly "fly away" when they lose their customers. But fly-by-night public schools stubbornly continue trying to fly, even when it turns out they are ostriches.
Education in America needs more competition, and that means inviting in as many competitors as possible. Like any human endeavor, some schools will fail. Many public schools have been failing for decades, if not longer, but that became relevant to unions only when it appeared they would lose power over them.
For school choice opponents, alternatives to public schools lead to a third charge: school choice programs supposedly are not accountable to taxpayers. Skeptics often make this point about what could happen with school choice, but they don't address the lack of accountability of public schools today. Public schools, by their very name, sound like they are accountable to taxpayers. But in practice accountability in public schools often means telling parents to sit tight while educators get their excuses organized.
One way to make schools accountable is to treat them like any enterprise providing a service: allow customers the option to leave, without having to get permission from parties with a vested interest. Schools would be much more accountable to parents armed with a voucher or a tuition tax credit they could use at any school, public, private, or even a homeschool taught by parents or freelance teachers.
Regardless of what school choice critics say in their union paid ads, there cannot be true accountability without competition. All private schools won't be perfect, but then, are school choice critics ready to hold the public schools to the same standard?
Casey Lartigue is an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute.
(1)Segregation exists in the Government run schools already. Segregation by voucher is likely to be related to performance of the school and cost of the school.
(2)Customer oriented schools will provide whatever the customer is willing to pay for. We have innumerable uneducated graduates of governemnt run schools. In the end, graduates have to produce at the job. Those that can produce will go on to successful careers. Those that can't will end up on the public dole or jail.
(3)The government is accountable to the taxpayer? What a laugh. When was the last time you told a government toad that you disagreed with his approach on some issue and received a response much less a change in direction? Customer based schools will need to be responsive to parents to survive. Period!
This man calls himself an educator. He should be ashamed of himself.
NAACP president Kweisi Mfume warns that vouchers could "allow our nation's schools to be divided once again by skin color."Da Wabbit thinks only white kids will get the vouchers?
He needs to come to Cleveland, where ultra-lib black councilwoman Fanny Lewis (who herself is about as much above race-baiting as Bill Clinton is above twisting facts) is a vociferous supporter of the voucher program.
No, vouchers will not improve general education but only the education of those who attend specific private schools many of which will provide religious indocrination, rather than education.
If you're really daring (and have a strong stomach) ask how much those assistant principals make a year. And yet teachers are still paid a teeny, tiny pittance and forced to waste years of their life getting a (worthless) degree in "education".
Why? Because they will not have students if they do not perform. Parents will take the students to another voucher or privated school.
To be fair, I should note that I have seen more racism from the Orient and from the middle-East and from south-central Asia.
While for the most part it has been white people championing and living up to their dream of our not pre-judging somebody because of the color of their skin.
"Hats off" to many American Indians for not being racial extremists while at the same time having the courage to maintain some segregation for the preservation of their culture.
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