Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The Arizona-based think tank,
www.goldwaterinstitute.org, had an online story Monday on school choice that gave me the heebie jeebies, if not the hives. Nebraska has hardly any school-choice options – no vouchers, no charter schools, no tuition tax credits.

But according to Goldwater, nearly a fourth of K-12 students nationwide are opting now for an array of public and private options. Meanwhile, except for homeschooling, or allowing a relative handful of public-school kids to attend public schools outside their neighborhoods, we’re being left behind this trend.

State legislatures have established seven school-voucher programs and six education tax-credit programs since 1990, the article reported. All in other states, of course.

Goldwater reported that 1.2 million children now attend charter schools – not a single one in Nebraska, though, since they aren’t legal here.

Goldwater reported:

“Florida has been a leading state in expanding school-choice options. Through the creation of three statewide choice programs - A+ Scholarships for children in failing schools (800 students); McKay Scholarships for children with disabilities (18,000 students); and tax-credit scholarships for low-income children (15,000 students) - Florida has led the way in the creation of school choice.

“The Miami-Dade public school system recently announced its intention to create new magnet-school options as a response to the competition.

"’We cannot be ostriches anymore with our heads in the sand,’ a district official told the Miami Herald.

"’They either get on board with the changing landscape of public education, or they're going to be left behind, with no students and no teachers,’ a Miami teacher union official stated.

“Harvard, Stanford and University of Wisconsin scholars have established that children using choice programs score higher on achievement tests. The evidence concerning children remaining in their public schools is even more compelling.

“Harvard economist Caroline Minter Hoxby studied Arizona public elementary school test scores and found that those schools facing high levels of competition from charter schools made gains in fourth-grade reading four times as large as the other schools.

“While choice reform continues to advance, the issue has unfortunately become embroiled in a political controversy in Arizona.

“Last session, the Arizona Legislature passed and Gov. Janet Napolitano agreed to sign - and then vetoed - a significant expansion in school choice for low-income parents in the form of a tax credit for corporations providing scholarships to students to attend independent schools.

“While the veto has become a heated dispute, it is important to recognize that the ultimate winners from the resolution will be thousands of Arizona children who will have the opportunity to attend a school best matching their needs as chosen by the parents.

“Arizona badly needs this legislation and more like it, especially in areas where the need for options is most urgent.

“High-performing public and charter schools often have years-long waiting lists, while nearby independent schools have empty seats. Despite the progress made toward choice in Arizona, desperate parents often face terrible difficulty in finding a seat for the child when a change is needed. Upper-income people fled poorly performing public schools decades ago by exercising the most common form of school choice: buying a home in the suburbs.

“Giving the children of low-income families a similar chance to have their parents choose a school that serves their needs spurs public school reform and equality of opportunity, one of the few things upon which all Arizonans genuinely agree.”

The article appended some studies on point, including their own:


Here’s a study on how a school-choice program for low-income kids in Minnesota is predicted to save taxpayers $41 million over the next six years because the kids will be attending private schools that cost less than the public schools that are now failing them:


And here’s an article on how school choice helps achievement and saves money, from the Harvard economist mentioned in the Goldwater story:


Now I not only feel itchy, but I’ve got tears in my eyes. Must be because Nebraska’s getting left in the dust . . . when we should’ve been out in front on this wagon train.

I discuss this topic daily myself. I also have a website that talks about income link online suggest related things. Go check it out if you get a chance.

This is hilarious
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