Conservative Republicans tout school choice – school vouchers and charter schools – as the means to liberate low and moderate income families from failing public schools. While I don’t disagree that vouchers and charter school offer an excellent short term solution, the question is, will they hurt more than they help?
School choice, as promoted by conservatives, is likely to draw off the most motivated families and students from our public schools. In other words, it will help students whose family situations already give them the highest likelihood for success, even in below average schools; families who already understand the importance of a good education and doing your homework every day. They inculcate values such as hard work and personal responsibility in their children.
Left behind will be the children who need excellent schools the most; those whose families are broken beyond repair or otherwise dysfunctional, whose parents not only don’t care if their children do their homework…they don’t even know if their children have homework. These are the parents who tell the teachers, “Don’t call me; I don’t want to get involved.”
Once those motivated families leave the public schools how likely is it that those parents will be activists for excellent public schools? How likely is it that the remaining families will step up to fill in the volunteer spots left vacant? How likely is it that the remaining students will step up and be role models and leaders?
Our long term path to educational success is to identify and recruit conservative candidates for school boards. We need school board members who are committed to implementing strong, a traditional curriculum. It’s time to stop using classrooms as laboratories and students as lab rats. If liberal educators want to test untried educational theories, let them ask for volunteers, but keep them out of the public school classrooms.
Our long term path to educational success is to motivate bright, young conservatives to choose careers in education at every level, both K through 12 and at the college level and especially as professors of education at our colleges and universities. We need also to motivate conservatives to choose careers as authors of textbooks in every subject area.
The path back to educational excellence is long. We must be resolved in our determination. We must be prepared to fight and fight hard with every fair means at our disposal, as the liberals now in control of our educational system will fight every step we try to take. We must start today if we are to save our public schools and secure an informed electorate.