I'm from the government, and I'm here to help
School choice = "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
I don't think school choice is the answer at all.
Treat's bill, SB1647 is very cumbersome. 17 pages long. It will be EPIC 10.0. Costly third-party administration, $$$ going to educational vendors approved by the Treasury department by who knows what standards, tax payers' dollars given out as a voucher to be spent on these approved vendors who will no doubt raise their prices as the money is coming from the tax payers and not the families they serve (look what the federal dollars have done to the cost of college tuition); there will be added regulations to private schools, cooperatives, learning pods, and home schoolers as they take government money. Play government games, win government prizes!
And it won't fix the failing schools, while it may skim a few students off the top and the money that goes with them, the kids left behind are not helped at all. How many students are in a single parent home and that parent can't drive them to another school because they are busy working? Or the rural family whose next closest school is 15+ miles [further] away?
They are also basing the $$$ spending on students who are currently in public schools. What happens when loads (about 35,000 in OK) of private school and home school families take the funds? Do the schools go completely broke? Will the private schools raise their rates? Are new private schools waiting in the wings right now to make money off tax payers for their private business?
Play government games, win government prizes!
People say it's their money. But once it's rendered to Caeser, it's Caeser's. Furthermore, the money that goes to a student in the form of a voucher likely exceeds that which their parents pay in property taxes. Are very many people paying $1000s in taxes? If so, they likely don't need a voucher. What about the neighbor who pays taxes and is also not using the schools, can they get a voucher to put towards a car? Don't see why not if they're paying and not using the school.
It sounds so good on the surface, but the devil is in the details.
How about an educational tax credit instead? Maybe even a refundable one for low income?
How about we break the bonds the teacher's unions have on our schools, eliminate tenure, trim the administrative fat, and give merit pay to great teacher's? Who are the good teachers? Just do an evaluation by the administrators, parents, students, and other teachers... the cream will rise to the top. Everyone in every school knows who the good and bad teachers are. Studies show that regardless of school or income, student success is in fact based on great teachers. Imagine if teachers had even half the per pupil spending that these vouchers are doling out.
Great teachers shouldn't mind live video cams on them for parents to check in during class and watch. Daycares provide that, why not schools? That would help lead to school improvement and competition.
There's still more to discuss about the bill, and even the principle of "leveling the playing field" for everyone being used by the Republicans. I'd love for all kids to have brand new Nikes, a beautiful home, and nutritious food.... but I don't want to pay for it with my taxes.
Frankly, parents aren't clamoring for this. I know because I've spent the last two days, ALL DAY, at the capitol talking to Senators. Nope! Organizations like OCPA, OCPAC, and others are the ones who want it. Parents who really want their kids in a better or different situation, already have them there. Very few are calling and saying, "Senator, I'd send my kid to another school or teach them at home if only you would save my family by giving us $3500."
Are we willing to sell our freedom for 30 pieces of government silver? We already have choice in Oklahoma.
Don't blow it folks! This is a badge for the Republicans. I was amazed that only 1 republican senator asked a question about a 17 page bill during the senate education committee today. The democrats were asking honest, tough questions, and defending home schoolers. Most of the Republicans appear to do whatever Sen Pro Tem wants. Otherwise, their bills don't stand a chance, and they can't represent their constituents. These are the games they play up there. I've been lobbying for homeschool freedom longer than any one of the legislators have been up there, because they term out.... we, who are busy protecting others' right to homeschool year in and year out, don't.
I'll be encouraging all legislators to vote NO on senate bills 1647, 1420, 1135, as well as 1509. And no to HB3482.