How to Prevent a Bad Education: Is School Choice the Answer?

How to Prevent a Bad Education: Is School Choice the Answer?

Education reform could take decades and, as most parents know intimately, kids don’t stay kids forever. Unfortunately, lower income and minority children are the ones who get the worst of a bad education. We don’t have decades to fix a problem that is in some ways contributing to what the ACLU calls the school-to-prison pipeline. So what kind of immediate solutions exist? Rand Paul proposes more school choice.

If the local public school system is broken, then we have to start looking at alternatives, even if that means supporting charter schools. There’s a lot of debate around the subject of implementing school choice programs. Some argue that it’s taking crucial funding away from public schools. A valid point, but then how many of you wants to pay for a school that is essentially “a dropout factory”?

It’s a serious concern. Take a look at this recent lawsuit in California. Nine public school kids are suing the State of California (Vergara v. California) for failing to give them the education they deserve. At the core of this is the way in which the state keeps ineffective teachers in the system.

The net result of California’s group of laws, their lawyers argued, is that “grossly ineffective” teachers –  that is, the worst of the bunch, who cannot be improved –  end up sloshing around in the schools. Some are quietly transferred from school to unsuspecting school, a practice the press has dubbed “the dance of the lemons.”

“Students taught by grossly ineffective teachers fall behind for years,” argued Ted Boutrous, one of the Nine’s lawyers.

All too often, the plaintiffs argued, bad teachers end up in the classrooms of poor and minority students, not middle-class suburban or wealthy Westside students. (LAWeekly)

Students get stuck with failing schools and a poor education when they lose in what Rand Paul calls in a co-authored article, “the zip code lottery of life.” It shouldn’t be that way. School choice is something that Paul spent a lot of time discussing this week in Chicago and Milwaukee:

Education is the great equalizer,” he told the crowd of several hundred, which filled much of the gymnasium at Josephinum Academy. “While this is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, there are people on two sides of this issue. I call them the dead-enders and those who believe in innovation. We’ve been trying the same thing in education for 50, 100 years. And education, particularly in our big cities, has been in a downward spiral.” (NYTimes)

Rand Paul calls school choice, “one of the key civil rights issues of our age.” Something has to be done about the way public education fails lower income, minority kids.

A school voucher/scholarship program may not be appropriate for every community, but efforts to increase school choice could make a real difference in areas where public schools are failing over and over to improve themselves. It makes sense. Do you want money to go to “a dropout factory” or towards a solution that’s going to make an immediate difference?


We want to hear what you think! Do you agree or disagree? Are there better solutions? Enlighten us in the comments below, stir up discussion on our Facebook or send us a tweet.



(Photo courtesy of Colleen Simon, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)



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