THE CASE FOR SCHOOL CHOICE
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Failures of government-run schools in Rhode Island:
POOR VALUE: Spending per student in RI is among the highest-10 in the nation, yet K-12 performance & progress is among the LOWEST-10
The high school GRADUATION RATE in RI is the WORST in New England
4th grade students in RI have scored the LOWEST in both reading and math among all New England states since 2000
Asian, Hispanic, and children with disabilities in RI perform worse than the national average.
Educational Choice IS Economic Development;
and is the key to prosperity for every child and for our state!
A great educational system is vital for Rhode Island’s future prosperity!
Graduating with skills is the key to success for any individual wishing to succeed in life
Growth of Rhode Island’s economy is contingent upon producing a qualified workforce that can attract major employers and can inspire an entrepreneurial spirit.
For every student left behind in a failing school, one more person and one more contributor to our Ocean State economy will have a lower chance to succeed.
With a stagnant economy and too many Rhode Islanders out of work, the time is now for every child to have a bright today educational opportunity so as to create a brighter future for themselves and our state.
Every student can enhance achievement when parents are empowered to choose the best educational environment for their children.
It is a commonly held belief that certain students from certain under-privileged famlies cannot succeed in school. THIS BELIEF IS FALSE!
This 'soft bigotry' of low expectations must be ended. According to the "Closing the Gap" study by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which documented how various student groups saw dramatic increases in educational performance when placed in a proper school environment:
Hispanic children make up the fastest growing student population in Rhode Island, yet overall academic achievement for this group has suffered as compared with their peers in reform-minded states, like Florida:
The performance gap between RI and FL Hispanic students in 4th-grade reading has doubled from 2002 - 2013.
"Al final del día, tenemos que darnos cuenta que no hemos logrado capacitar a nuestros hijos con una educación que se traducirá en éxito en el mundo real. Es hora de dar ese poder a los padres para ver, "como otros estados estan viendo, que nuestros hijos se desenvuelven en un ambiente educativo con verdaderas opciones y oportunidades reales." ... Luis Vargas, Community Outreach Advisor
Similarly, performance gaps between RI and FL have also dramatcally widened among low-income students and students with disabilities.
YOUR CHILD SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DREAM OF HAVING A BRIGHT FUTURE, TOO!
A BRIGHT TODAY SCHOLARSHIP CAN MAKE YOUR CHILD'S DREAMS COME TRUE!
EXAMPLE OF HOW EDUCATIONAL REFORMS WORK:
Since Florida passed its school choice measures, national testing scores for children with disabilities have increased strongly since then, outperforming their Rhode Island peers by 220%. Reform in this area would provide the most benefit for Rhode Island students with disabilities, including 504 designations. This RI group has seen a decline in performance over the last decade, consistently dropping from a score of 195 in 1998 to 178 in 2013 (Figure 12) . Florida students with disabilities, once scored 24 points below peer students in Rhode Island … but now score 25 points higher. This 49 point swing represents an approximate five grade level turnaround!
They're ALL our kids ... and they're ALL our schools!
Consider a holistic view of our state’s educational system. If we consider that:
All children of RI families are, collectively, our students; and if …
All educational institutions – public or private – serve our children; and if …
Most all residents, directly or indirectly, pay taxes towards the education of our children, then …
Why should those funds be used exclusively to support the monopoly of government-run schools, as opposed to the higher level goal of ensuring an educated population?
Why wouldn’t we all be better off if we could direct funds to where they will be used most effectively to educate OUR children?
Taxpayer dollars should be wisely spent to maximize the effectiveness of our state’s entire educational system. Taxpayer dollars spent exclusively to fund public school systems fails to meet this test - when there may be more effective options available, and especially when many public schools fail to meet the educational needs of certain individual students.
It can only be beneficial to our state if ALL schools - private, charter, vocational, or home-based - are allowed to pick up the slack – and provide that quality education to OUR children; especially when many public schools are not doing their job adequately.
Teachers can be better paid and be more satisfied in their work.
Imagine teachers being free to instruct to their fullest capacity and free to be rewarded for their good work!
Often, strict collective-bargaining provisions in many school districts restrict the flexibility of teachers to provide students with the personalized education they require. Other provisions protect poor teachers from being held accountable. Seniority provisions often lead to great, young teachers being the first to be laid off, while rigid pay scale mandates mean that great teachers have little leverage to negotiate fair-market contracts for their proven value to our communities.
In the more open work environment that expanded school choice programs would foster, teachers will have more employment options to choose from, and can be duly rewarded for their effective work. Teachers are empowered as employees when their employers have to compete for their services.
Imagine increased STUDENT SAFETY and
Parents are more satisfied with their children's school environment when THEY are empowered with educational choice.
After all who cares more about their kids? Parents?
Or bureaucrats in a one-size-fits-all school system?
Parents in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program reported thinking their children’s new private schools were safer than their former public schools, rating the private schools significantly better in terms of safety than did parents in the public system. For many parents in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, school safety was paramount.
Demand exceeds supply for School Choice options in Rhode Island
The limited availability of existing school choice programs is not meeting the demands of Rhode Island families:
There are approximately 142,000 K-12 public school children in Rhode Island (including charter schools) plus another 17,000 or so in private schools
Zero students are currently eligible for any statewide voucher-type program
Only about 300 under-served students were able to take part in RI’s existing corporate tax credit scholarship program in 2013;
- less than 50% of RI children even qualify for this program;
- and only 31% of companies wishing to participate in this program were allowed to contribute
Only about 5500 under-served students were fortunate enough to win a lottery to attend one of RI’s 16 charter schools in 2013
- Potentialy, tens of thousands of other students were condemned to remain in schools that were not their family’s first choice. In one charter school system, almost 12,000 students applied for just 1300 availalbe seats!
- RI charter school laws receive a “D” grade
Students who remain in public schools see higher academic outcomes!
Research from across the nation finds that school choice programs led to a positive impact on academic outcomes, while not a single study showed a negative outcome.
In fact, 22 of 23 studies found that academic outcomes - at public schools – were also positive!
LESSON: No matter the product or service, increased competition improves quality and lowers costs. The positive competitive pressures placed on public schools that co-exist with local school choice programs generally forces those public schools to positively respond; by ensuring that they are adequately serving every child; and ensuring that families are more informed about the quality of the education their children are receiving.
If public schools fail to adjust and continue to lose more students to alternative educational programs, then they are undeserving of public funding.
Collective bargaining provisions in most government schools restrict teacher effectiveness and divert money away from classrooms.
The rigid labor rules under which government schools must operate make it difficult, if not impossible, to enforce accountability or to reform the system:
* Taxpayer funds are often diverted to fund union activities instead of classroom learning
* After three-years, teachers become vested with tenure and even bad teachers cannot be fired except in extreme cases
* Seniority provisions often mean that the best young teachers are the first to be laid off; also management is not able to place teachers where they would best fit the needs of the school district; and creates no financial incentive for teachers to strive to be the best they can be