Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Truth About School Choice: Ignore Voucher Failures to Keep Myth of Better Education Alive

Profit driven K-12 private schools want your hard earned tax dollars. Period.
Want proof? The following story out of Ohio is all that needs to be said about the flawed clich├ęs parroted by voucher advocates and their Republican enablers.

Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio pays private school tuitions for about 10,000 students through its Educational Choice Scholarship program, and those students take the same state tests that public school students take. Through a public records request: Many Ed Choice students failed state achievement and graduation tests administered last May. And state officials admit that they don’t check who passes or fails the tests, just whether the students take them.

That wasn’t a misprint. Again, it doesn’t matter whether students passed the test, just that they TOOK it? Parents of Ed Choice should be choking on their coffees right now. The voucher advocates have legally made irrelevant these results:
Four in 10 failed in reading-- Six in 10 failed in math-- Three in 10 failed in writing- Nearly seven in 10 failed in science--And six in 10 failed in social studies.But, unlike with public or charter schools, these failures won’t reflect on private schools.
Now that’s education reform you can believe in. Republican legislators made sure private educators performance was not an issue:

The Ohio Education Department does not compile test scores of voucher students or report them on school report cards to parents, as it does for public and charter schools and districts. State officials refused to even disclose which private schools the students who took the tests attended, nor what grade levels the students had reached. Also unknown was where the Ed Choice students lived. County, city and district of residence information was withheld.

Education Department Spokesman Scott Blake said that information could compromise student privacy. The education department doesn’t compile or analyze test scores of Ed Choice students because the law requires that students merely take the tests, not that they pass them or that anyone rates their schools’ performance. Blake says the program’s success should be measured by whether it provides more educational options for parents. “It’s about parental choice and trying to find the best educational match for that child.”

I can’t imagine any parent being more concerned with having choices over whether their kids get a great education. I wonder how many other states have similar “standards” in place, as the “choice” myth continues to build.

One final point: Would you be okay with your child missing one or two years of learning anything in school? Of course not, but Ohio Republicans decided that was an exceptable price to pay.

Blake said: “Besides, how do you measure a private school’s effect on an Ed Choice student’s test scores if they’ve attended in less than a year? Education is a process; it’s not something that happens over night. It could be that kid goes there and something clicks and the following spring they do great. Or it could take a year or more. A lot of it is about the individual involved.”

But public school officials note their annual report cards judge them on all students’ progress, even first-year transfer students.

This demonstrates how far voucher advocates are willing to go to game the system, at the expense of our kids intellectual development and future. I don’t think I’ve seen anything this blatantly self serving from voucher advocates in the time I’ve been following this ideologically driven snake oil. The following are reader comments:

Ohiocrat wrote: I never had a clue that voucher students didn't have to pass state tests like public school students do. That makes these programs even more of a joke in my book. All elementary schools in the voucher program receive $4500 per student. That's way more than the tuition at almost all private elementary schools … the average tution was around $2700. We're spending $60 million tax dollars on a program that overpays (by nearly double) the tution of private school students. What's worse is that the students "being saved" from their neighborhood public schools are preforming worse than their public school peers. Follow that logic? Be sure to thank your local GOP Legislator for yet another brilliant idea

jcody wrote: So the tests that are used to slap around public and charter schools when the results are poor don't count for private schools that use public money? Likewise, students stigmatized by poor test results in public schools don't face that same disapproval in private schools? That doesn't sound fair, nor does it sound as if tax money is being used in a way that holds anyone accountable. Is there a good reason for being against this brand of accountability?

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