School choice

The arithmetic of school choice in Wichita

As the residents of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, consider a bond issue whose purpose, partly, is to reduce overcrowding, we should consider a way to reduce overcrowding in schools that would be much less expensive. The district is not likely to consider this method. Whenever school choice implemented through vouchers or tax credits is mentioned, district officials and the teachers union immediately claim that school choice will drain money from public schools and lead to their ruin. But is the claim that school choice drains money from public schools true? Let's sharpen the pencil and do some…
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Wichita school bond issue: solve overcrowding this way

According to USD 259 (Wichita public school district) officials, one of the prime reasons a bond issue is needed in 2008 is that schools are overcrowded. New classrooms and new schools must be built, according to district officials, to solve this overcrowding problem. This is another way to reduce overcrowding, and it won't require spending any new money. In fact, the Wichita school district might even save money, and satisfaction with schools in Wichita will increase. How can we do this? The State of Kansas and USD 259 can implement wide-spread school choice funded by vouchers and/or tax credits. This…
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Voucher opponents: uninformed or untruthful?

Writing from New Orleans, Louisiana "The AFT supports parents' right to send their children to private or religious schools but opposes the use of public funds to do so. The main reason for this opposition is because public funding of private or religious education transfers precious tax dollars from public schools …" This is a typical criticism of school vouchers, here expressed by one of the nation's teachers unions. But what about the reasoning behind this claim? A common plan for vouchers calls for the school that loses a student to a voucher school to also lose the funding that…
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Curious Logic

Curious Logic Presidential hopefuls exercise school choice, but deny it to others by Clint Bolick There's something about our nation's capital that converts many leading Democrats to school choice. But in most cases this extends only to their own children -- not to the millions of children in failing public schools. Indeed, a nearly perfect correlation exists among Democratic presidential candidates who have exercised school choice for their own children and those who would deny such choices to other parents. When the Clintons came to Washington, D.C. in 1993, they sent Chelsea to the private Sidwell Friends School. Two years…
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Behind a School Finance Lawsuit

In a recent article by education researcher Eric A. Hanushek ("The Cost of an 'Adequate' Education," October 9, 2006 Wall Street Journal) we learn about the process behind the studies used in many states to determine how much school spending is necessary. Concerning New York, he writes this: Unfortunately, in determining the cost of an "adequate" education, the court relied heavily on the questionable analysis of consultants hired by the plaintiffs. Their analysis, labeled a "professional judgment model," was advertised as a scientific determination of the amount of spending necessary to secure an "adequate" education for every New York City…
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Not Everyone Agrees With Choice

Writing from Miami, Florida Recently I wrote about the case of a young girl who is homeschooled, one who gives me hope in the future of youth. (See A Declaration of Independence from Public Schools.) There are people, however, who would deny talented and dedicated young people like Mary the opportunity to be educated in the way their parents wish. In a blog post titled It's not homeschooling -- it's truancy we find someone who would, if I understand the author, deny everyone this opportunity. The article is full of stereotypes and generalities: "If you've even been to a GOP…
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School choice helps those best who have least

Writing from Miami, Florida An article in the March 2, 2006 Wall Street Journal by Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tells of the large numbers of African-American families in Minneapolis who send their children to charter schools or to schools in other districts, thanks to Minnesota law that allows district-crossing. The families in Minneapolis have ample incentive to look elsewhere for schools. "Last year, only 28% of black eighth-graders in the Minneapolis public schools passed the state's basic skills math test; 47% passed the reading test. ... Today, this tradition of choice is providing a ticket out for…
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Book Review: Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families

Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families Sheldon Richman The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1994 Public schools are a great intrusion on liberty. Attendance is compulsory, as is paying for the public schools. Could the government devise a better way to expand its influence? "Despite the claim of moral neutrality, public education is linked to a particular set of values, namely, the values of the modern welfare, or social-service state. Those values include moral agnosticism (erroneously called tolerance), government activism, egalitarianism, 'welfare rights' to taxpayer largess, collectivism, and a watered-down version of socialism that looks much like the…
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Book Review: Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn’t So

Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So Jay P. Greene Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005 Education policy, says Jay P. Greene, is dominated by myths. Myths aren't lies. They're intuitive, they seem to be true, and we want them to be true. There is probably some evidence supporting the myth. But if the myth isn't true, if it isn't accurate, and we make policy decisions based on the myth, we create disastrous results. As important and expensive as public education is, this means we need to examine myths and…
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How children lose in the Kansas Legislature’s special session

USD 259 (Wichita) public schools superintendent Winston Brooks plans to use the majority of the anticipated increase in school funding to reduce class size. Evidence cited in other articles on this website show that smaller class sizes don't produce better educational outcomes for students. Because the conventional wisdom is that smaller class sizes are good for students, the extra money and smaller class sizes will be saluted as a victory for the children. Editorial writers, school administrators, teachers, and those who don't care to confront facts will thank the Kansas Supreme Court and Kansas Legislature for saving the children. The…
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