We read a lot of misinformation regarding school choice. We don’t even attempt to correct them all-we couldn’t. However, today was just chock-full of faulty reasoning, false understandings, and bias. We would like to respond to a few of the more egregious statements we stumbled across today.
First up from the Commercial Appeal is an editorial: “Learning in the virtual world; Virtual Academy: Expanding learning options through virtual classrooms is a good concept, but shouldn’t hurt public education” July 20, 2011. In part we read:
On its face, the bill gives students and their parents another choice in their pursuit of academic achievement. Look closer, however, and it’s not difficult to be concerned that the new venture may have the potential to undermine support for public schools.
The state education funding for students enrolled in the Tennessee Virtual Academy, who can live anywhere in the state, will flow to the Union County schools district. That could increase the financial pressure on school districts like Memphis City Schools, which are struggling to balance their budgets.
And parents who choose to enroll their children in the Tennessee Virtual Academy should do so for the right reasons, not to be home-schooled at the state’s expense.
The editorial board of the Commercial Appeal needs a better understanding of the purpose of the American public education system and of the taxes collected to fund the education of Tennessee’s children.
The purpose of the public education system:
We created our public education system to provide all our children with an excellent education – to be an equalizer – to give all children a chance to succeed regardless of their socioeconomic beginnings. Unfortunately equality and excellence in the public education system has become the exception not the rule, especially for the children in Memphis.
The purpose of collecting taxes for education:
Taxes are collected to provide an education (we will repeat this once again) for all our children. Taxes are NOT collected to support a particular school or school district. Further we would ask why a home school child is less deserving of using any part of the Tennessee education system that meets an educational need of a child living in that district. After all, the TN legislator deemed the Virtual Academy an acceptable “Public” education choice. We all pay our taxes (including home school parents) in the hope of providing EVERY child the education they need to succeed!
You may also apply our confutation above to the Commercial Appeal article “‘Virtual school’ in Tennessee may drain taxpayer funds; High enrollment expected for online studies” by Richard Locker, July 24, 2011.
Next up via Knoxnews.com by Tom Humphrey on July 19, 2011 is “More on Vouchers, Michelle Rhee & the TN.” It is unclear to us the purpose of listing a bunch of quotes “about some voucher research,” as if posting a quote equates to facts, valid statistical data or somehow helps a reader have a better understanding of a particular topic. However, let’s take a look:
A lot of the disagreement is over whether taxpayer dollars should be used to support private schools, 80 percent of which nationally are religiously based, according to Raymond.
The courts have upheld it is not governmental endorsement of a religion to allow a parent to use a voucher to send their child to a school that meets their child’s needs. Further, the Tennessee Constitution contains no Blaine Amendment
Another point of contention is giving families free reign to leave traditional public schools in favor of charter schools which will shift government funding from one part of the district to another.
You may once again apply our confutation to the Commercial Appeal articles above to this statement.
After examining charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia, Raymond’s office found that 17 percent of them performed better than public schools. Another 46 percent reported the same academic achievement as their public school counterparts, while 37 percent were worse.
We’re not sure what study the above quote comes from but we have linked to numerous studies, news articles and other information concerning vouchers (and other school choice options) including one of our favorites, A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Vouchers released 3/23/2011 by Greg Forster, Ph.D in which we learn:
Contrary to the widespread claim that vouchers do not benefit participants and hurt public schools, the empirical evidence consistently shows that vouchers improve outcomes for both participants and public schools.
Nineteen empirical studies have been conducted on how voucher programs (and one tax-credit scholarship program) impact academic achievement in public schools. Of these studies, 18 find that vouchers improve public schools. The one remaining study found that vouchers had no visible impact on public schools. No empirical study has ever found that vouchers had a negative impact on student outcomes in public schools.
From 1990 to 2006, the nation’s school choice programs saved $422 million for local school districts and $22 million for state budgets.
Even if vouchers did not improve test scores for participants and in public schools, there would still be other reasons to implement them. Vouchers put students into schools that graduate more students, earn significantly greater satisfaction from parents, provide better services for disabled students, improve racial integration and students’ civic values, save the public money, and so forth.
States that kept failing charter schools open longer were worse off than those that closed schools faster, according to the study.
“You have to think about the fact that in states where the results are really bad, it’s because there are schools that are open for years and years and years that do not have high performance and are not being addressed,” Raymond said.
Tennessee has some of the most rigorous Charter laws in the nation. Further, one of the great aspects of Tennessee’s Charter school laws is they allow the closing of those charters that fail to educate children. Try closing a failing zoned public school. It almost never happens.
Via Nogga.com “School board says ‘no’ to home-school participation in public school sports” by James Harrison July 25, 2011. In this instance our scorn is directed towards the Hamilton County School Board which voted down allowing home-schoolers to participate in extracurricular athletics at their respective public schools. Our rebuttal is available in a previous post Here. We would like to share the most absurd excuse-to date-for refusing to provide for the educational needs of a child made by Hamilton County board member Joe Galloway:
“What if a home-school athlete has a crazy uncle who shows up at the games and throws a scene?” Galloway asked. “If don’t go out of the way for this, there will still be teams left for these athletes to play on.”
Come on Hamilton County. This is the best representation you could find? This was your choice to fight, on your behalf, for the educational needs of Hamilton County’s children? Good grief!