Friday, February 18, 2011

Fund Education Not Vouchers

I support public education. I spent my much of my junior high school years and all my high school years in the public education system after my father retired from the military and I couldn't attend schools on military installations or for Americans in foreign countries. I am against any provision to support private schools with public money. It's a bad investment and robs students of funds for public school systems.

People and members of Congress argue that the public school system is broken and private and charter schools are the best choices for parents wanting a "better" education for their children. And they argue public funding of those schools is fair and appropriate. No, it's not, and it's proven.

All the studies have proven charter schools aren't any better than public schools. Over the range of both schools, they're both the same for test results, student achievement, and any other criteria you use to evaluate them save one, in total charter schools are more expensive, and only compete with public funds or vouchers to families.

The proponents argue, and somewhat rightly, that it's because the student-teacher ratio is lower, the facilities better, really just newer, and more technologically advanced. And that's ok only because they are newer and had the initial capital investment, but it's ok not when they not only need but demand public funds to operate.

If parents want to send their children to private or charter schools, I'm ok with it, that's their choice. But it's not their choice to take away money from public schools to do that. That money is our money, for all school children and teenagers, not just their children. Make those schools better and all students will get a better education at public expense, not selective to the families.

It is, in my view, unconscionable that Congress even consider public funded charter schools or provide vouchers for parents who simply dislike public schools. Those parents should pony up their own money if that's their concern. It's not Congress' place to facilitate discriminating against the rest of the children and the public school systems who could use and need the money.

It's time we faced the music and built the best public education system in the world. We haven't as local communties and school districts struggle with funding, school districts struggle with adequate, let alone better, teacher and student programs, supplies and services, and we struggle to define a more diverse method and more appropriate standards for students.

Students aren't one size fits all. Many school districts know that and provide for that, but the majority don't and can't, all due to inadequate funding and support from state and federal programs. And we need to ensure the education materials are the best with the truth than rewriting science or redescribing history.

I know this from my own experience, and I know, while it's over 40 years old, many of the school systems haven't improved or kept pace with the times. Our political leaders keep talking a story and selling the rhetoric about reforming or improving our education system, and then don't do much if to find fault and offer non-public solutions with public money.

The future of our nation's children is not political fodder to avoid the real investment in them or to favor those who can afford private or charter schools. It's about all children, and it's about investing the necessary money in them, and that's in the public education system.

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