Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Most of Nebraska’s English Language Learners speak Spanish and come from homes that are new to English. Significant numbers of them have academic achievement that is below grade level, largely because of the language barrier. Though lots of money is spent on them in the public schools, there’s a push afoot to spend even more.

But we don’t need no stinkin’ equity lawsuits, or higher taxes, or tons more state aid.

There’s a better way. In San Antonio, in a low-income school district that is 97% Hispanic, they’ve found it. And it’s called “school choice.”

We ought to take a hard look at it . . . muy rapido!

Hispanic children in that San Antonio district who received privately-funded tuition to attend local private schools posted gains on the Stanford-9 standardized tests of 5% to 7% per year over the first four years of the program. They also cut the achievement gap between Hispanic kids and the state average on the Texas statewide basic-skills exam by two-thirds in that four-year period.

There are now 1,916 children whose parents opted them out of the public-school district into private schools under this program, while 13,164 children remained. The program hasn’t hurt the public-school district: in fact, teacher salaries have increased by 23% in four years there, and funding is up by $1,000 per pupil.

So an amazing improvement in academic achievement for nearly 2,000 children was accomplished without a cent of extra tax funding, without drawing away any resources from the public-school district, and the local public-school district wasn’t financially hurt and, in fact, is better off as a result of this privately-funded competition.

The private funding came from a 10-year, $50 million program called “HORIZON” run by the Children’s Educational Opportunities Foundation,

You can read a study of this program posted on the website of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Education,

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