Vouchers and Choice: What A Crock!

You can find all kinds of support for, and blogs about, school choice and vouchers. I will not bother to give links (Jay P. Greene) because you can Google it.

The pro-voucher/choice argument is this: give parents the opportunity to go to a better performing school than the shitty one their kid is in. Let's ask what makes a better performing school. Is it the teachers? The curriculum? The principal or Board of Education? Is it the population that attends the school? Yes! The last one! The population attending the school determines the test scores, because they are the ones taking the test!

Now you may want to credit teachers for the success, or lack-there-of, but that would be sort of silly since, like I said, it is the kids who take the test, not the teachers. But don't the teachers decide what the students learn? No! We decide what gets taught (well, districts and states do that really) and how we teach it (though now that is changing as we move towards a more robotic form of teaching--watch it fail too); we do not decide if a student learns it; that should be reserved for the student and her family to decide.

So, if we institute this policy of allowing folks to choose schools based on AYP scores, many low scorers will move into high-scoring schools, diluting the populations high-scores at that school, thereby lowering scores, and giving parents a reason to now abandon the new school. It creates a vicious circle of moving students around to schools that contain differing populations with differing baseline knowledge, parental involvement, socioeconomic status and the rest.

Vouchers simply move the issue from school to school, delaying any reform we as a nation might bring to making our students better learners. I have some suggestions on how to achieve a more even playing field for our children:

1. reduce poverty
2. reduce poverty
3. fund schools fully
4. pay teachers more, then see who shows up to teach
5. bring back vocational school
6. bring back tracking
7. demand parental involvement (at home, not in my classroom. In fact, stay the hell out of my classroom unless you have something to offer that I don't have to deal with. I already have to deal with 20 7-year-olds, I do not need a nosy parent in there)
8. offer music, art, and physical education

I suppose I could go on, but you get the picture. Vouchers move the problem around. They don't solve the problem; indeed, vouchers are a response to an ill-posed question: How do we give a better education to our kids? Well, first we need kids, and families, who value an education. Let's give our country a reason to value education. One way to start is to refrain from belittling the amazing achievements of those who have graduated from rigorous institutions of higher learning. In other words, we should be in awe of anyone who makes editor of the Harvard Law Review, not try to knock him down as an elitist.

We are a country of well educated, and not so well educated folks. It used to be that the less educated dreamt of providing for their children so those children could be educated. Now it seems as though those who are not educated want the same for their children. What happened? When did we get all anti-education? And blaming teachers? Ridiculous.

I lay the problem at the feet of corporate America, who places more importance on keeping up with the Jones's and making money for their shareholders (all 9 of them) than on making America the best educated, best taken care of people in the world.

Total Pageviews