School choice poses no threat to great or good public schools

SchoolhouseTo The Daily Sun,

Reviewing his 1/9/18 column, one has to wonder if E. Scott Cracraft intentionally tries to mislead readers, if he just doesn’t care about children getting a decent start in life, if he’s blind to public education’s failures, or if he is afraid that children, educated outside of public schools, might learn to think for themselves and reject his progressive beliefs … or all of the above.

Cracraft suggests that the public hasn’t adequately supported public education, but that’s false! Public education costs have skyrocketed. Citizens have responded to public education demands for decades: more money, more teachers, computers, smaller class sizes, etc. Nevertheless public education fails to deliver decent educational opportunities to many students.

Cracraft claims people are telling schools how to teach; I don’t know who that is, but everyone can tell the difference between good and failing schools. Cracraft looks for people, other than teachers, to blame, e.g., parents, administrators, and students. But some schools make stars out of failing students formerly from failing schools; the school makes a difference.

Despite Cracraft’s scare-mongering no one is trying to eliminate or inadequately fund public education. People who advocate change (school choice) are only reacting to the decades old continuing failures of our public schools to offer good educational opportunities to every student.

Cracraft doesn’t complain when wealthy parents take their children out of public schools, impacting public school funding, and provide their children alternate educations, but he objects to offering similar chances for decent educations to the children from poor and middle income families.

Apparently Cracraft doesn’t care about children from poor or middle income families. Cracraft seems willing to let these children be uneducated and struggle all their lives just to avoid the chance that while getting a good education they might question his progressive beliefs, e.g., in man-made global warming or evolution.

I happily support the public education system as long as it does a good job for every child. But when the public education system fails to provide a decent educational opportunity for each child, tax money should at least help provide an alternative educational opportunity.

Unfortunately the public education establishment, the teachers’ unions, and their supporters fight school choice; they care more about protecting the public education establishment’s comfortable monopoly than about the students’ well-being.

But school choice poses no significant threat to great or good public schools; few students would leave for alternative schools. But some public schools are bad and some are dangerous; many students from these schools aren’t able to get a decent education and dropout or graduate lacking basic skills. Such schools should close if they can’t quickly turn around and student funding should be directed to alternative schools/educational opportunities. This is the right thing to do for the students and for society.

Fortunately, the New Hampshire Legislature is considering a pilot program (SB193) help students in failing schools. This five year pilot program will allow the state portion of student funding to be directed by parents to alternative educational opportunities for their children. The program limits the number of students in the program, their family income levels, the schools they can come from, and the local public school’s financial loss to a negligible amount (0.25 percent), and it monitors student progress.

It’s time for New Hampshire to put children’s well-being ahead of the public education establishment that fails them. SB193 needs to be passed, implemented, and, if successful, made permanent.

Please tell your state representatives to support SB193, it’s a good step towards ensuring that all New Hampshire children have a chance for a good education.

(H/T: Laconia Daily Sun)