Tag Archives: Choice and Competition

Supreme Court narrowly sides with private schools against government

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

The Supreme Court’s big school choice decision yesterday is notable mainly for its insight into the progressive mind. To wit, no fewer than four Justices seem to believe that all wealth belongs to the government, and then government allows citizens to keep some of it by declining to tax it.

At issue in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn was a state tax credit for donations to organizations that offer scholarships for private schools, including (but not exclusively) religious schools. A group of taxpayers sued, claiming that religion was being subsidized on their dime, in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

The district court tossed out this novel church-state theory, only to have it revived by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday’s 5-4 decision was another well-deserved rebuke to the nation’s leading judicial activists who dominate that appellate court.

[…]And what do you know, four Justices assume precisely that. Both of President Obama’s nominees joined the four dissenters, and newcomer Elena Kagan delivered a fiery 24-page apologia for that position, claiming that “the distinction” between appropriations and tax credits “is one in search of a difference.” There’s a good debate to be had about tax credits (see below), but one question for Justice Kagan: Is the government also establishing religion by not imposing a 100% tax rate on churches, mosques and synagogues?With one more vote, the current Court’s liberal minority would surely ban school choice involving any religious schools. The Arizona decision shows again that the Court is only a single vote away from many decisions not all that far removed from those of the Ninth Circuit.

You can also listen to a 5-minute podcast on the decision from the Hugh Hewitt show right here.

Note that Obama’s two new appointees sided against Christian schools and private schools. Yet some brain-damaged Christians actually vote for Democrats, and claim to be Christians. (And they claim to want to get married and to raise children who will presumably be Christians, too!). School choice is as central an issue to informed Christians as is opposition to no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion.

Must-see videos on education policy

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Republicans in Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania push school choice

First, education reform in Florida.

Excerpt:

Michelle Rhee, who gained national attention as the chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., called Monday for giving students government-funded vouchers to attend private schools, rating principals based on student achievement and getting rid of teacher tenure.

The release of the blueprint was the first formal action of Ms. Rhee’s new advocacy group, StudentsFirst, which she launched in December, after leaving her job heading D.C. schools in October. Ms. Rhee said she was in discussions with the governors of Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, Tennessee, Nevada and Indiana to adopt part, if not all, of the agenda.

[…]The nation’s two largest teachers’ unions criticized Ms. Rhee’s agenda.[…]The detailed plan Ms. Rhee released Monday focuses on overhauling teacher pay and evaluation plans, giving parents more say in their child’s education and spending tax dollars more wisely.

In addition to doing away with tenure, it calls for ending the practice of paying teachers based on years of service and on the master’s degrees they collect. Ms. Rhee said pay should be based on whether teachers boost student achievement.

She also is calling for districts to get parental consent before placing children in the classrooms of low-performing teachers. Ms. Rhee said firing ineffective teachers can be time-consuming and expensive.

“Too many districts hide the fact that they have ineffective teachers and we are saying, ‘If you can’t change the laws, then you have to give parents the information,’ ” she said.

The blueprint also prods states and districts to adopt “parent trigger” laws that let parents force a major overhaul of a school if more than half of them sign a petition. They could vote to turn the school into a charter school or force the district to get rid of most of the teaching staff.A similar policy was used in Compton, Calif., last year.

Ms. Rhee’s document also calls for an end to what she calls ineffective policies that waste taxpayer money, such as class size reduction policies in the higher grade levels. Her plan, she said, wouldn’t increase spending but would ensure taxpayer money was spent more wisely.

StudentsFirst’s initial foray into policy could be in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected to office in November, appointed Ms. Rhee to his transition team. In a news release, Mr. Scott praised Ms. Rhee’s agenda and said he supported her call to eliminate tenure and expand the number of charter schools, public schools run by independent groups.

And education reform from Indiana. (H/T Heritage Foundation)

Excerpt:

Gov. Mitch Daniels urged the state legislature to finally act on significant reforms to public education and local government in his annual State of the State speech Tuesday, repeating a call for the expansion of charter schools, merit pay for teachers and the elimination of township government.

[…]Now empowered by a Republican majority in both legislative chambers, Daniels said “it’s going to be a session to remember.” He was escorted to the podium by several lawmakers of both parties, including Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.

He said Indiana should let students finish their high school studies a year early and be given scholarships for college studies. Teachers should be rewarded based on student performance, he said, adding that one in three Hoosier children can pass the national math or reading exam.

Meanwhile, he said 99 percent of Indiana teachers are rated “effective.”

“If that were true 99 percent, not one-third, of our students would be passing those national tests,” Daniels said.

Families who can’t find the right public or charter public school, he said, should be able to apply state dollars toward “the non-government school of their choice.”

And finally, education reform in Pennsylvania. (H/T Heritage Foundation)

Excerpt:

Political momentum is building for taxpayer-funded school tuition vouchers, as hundreds of people clogged the Capitol rotunda Tuesday to support the idea of “school choice.”

[…]During the recent campaign, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley told the boisterous crowd, Gov. Tom Corbett “repeatedly said that things would change in education. Today we start that process of putting children first. State government should be open to and promote charter schools, home schools, private schools and cyber schools” as well as traditional public schools, he said.”I’m more excited and encouraged about the possibility of educational change than I’ve ever been,” said Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, who has been advocating state-funded tuition vouchers for 15 years.

[…]His bill, Senate Bill 1, would create a three-phase program for making state-funded vouchers available to low-income students who now have no choice but to go to public schools that consistently score poorly on state proficiency tests.

[…]The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on the bill in mid-February, and it could get a Senate vote in March. Since Republicans control both the Senate and House, and since Gov. Tom Corbett supports the school choice idea, the bill is likely to be enacted. But opponents could file a court challenge.

Last week was “School Choice Week“, and there were a lot of events promoting school choice. Republicans noticed these events and participated in them. And now Republicans are making a push to sign bills that help poor students to get better educations. Democrats are opposed to school choice because they are supported by teacher unions who want guaranteed jobs for teachers regardless of performance.

I like that the Republicans are making pushes to cut spending, ban taxpayer funding of abortions, and introduce school choice. These are all issues that I strongly agree with, because they are all pro-child. Children shouldn’t have to pay for the debts their parents run up, children shouldn’t be killed in the womb, and children shouldn’t get a crappy education just so that badly performing schools can stay open. These policies make sense to me. Next, they should introduce a federal law for charter marriages, and introduce a federal voucher program for pre-marital counseling.

Must-see videos on education policy

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What issue could propel the Republicans to victory in 2012?

The issue is school choice. Are the Republicans aware of this issue?

You bet they are.

Excerpt:

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, as it is known, was launched in 2004 as the first federally funded program providing K-12 education grants. Though supporters say it gives poor students an alternative to the city’s underperforming public school system, teachers unions and other opponents say it draws sorely needed money away from the public system.

Lawmakers opposed to the program succeeded in eliminating it after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. — who could not be reached for comment Tuesday — attached an amendment to a 2009 spending bill. President Obama stepped in and agreed to allow students currently enrolled to graduate. But the program is no longer accepting new applicants.

Lindsey Burke, a Heritage Foundation analyst also on Boehner’s guest list, said she hopes the proposed legislation finds an audience on the Hill.

“We know that demand is very high for the program,” she said. She said there were four applicants for every available scholarship when the program was accepting students and that graduation rates were far better than in the public system.

Under the program, low-income parents in the District of Columbia were eligible for grants worth up to $7,500 annually to send their kids to private school. According to statistics provided by the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the average household participating in the program earned just over $25,000 a year. There are still more than 1,000 students enrolled in the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Washington, D.C., has one of the most troubled public school systems in the country; its students consistently lag behind national averages on standardized testing. According to the scholarship program data, 93 percent of enrolled students would have otherwise attended an underperforming school in the District.

How much does it cost to provide a POOR education to one of these children?

Excerpt:

The most common per-pupil figure used for D.C. Public Schools is an estimated $13,000. That figure is used by all of Washington’s major daily newspapers – The Washington Times, The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner. Local radio and TV stations quote that number as well. But the actual dollar amount is $24,600 – which is “roughly $10,000 more than the average for area private schools,” as Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute pointed out in his April 4 blog, “The Real Cost of Public Schools.”

Mr. Coulson did not use “new math” to come up with $24,600. He used simple arithmetic. Total funding for D.C. Public Schools this fiscal year (including federal dollars) was $1.216 billion. He divided that by the official enrollment figure of 49,422 and the sum became $24,606.

Also, Mr. Coulson averaged the published tuition costs for private schools in the region and came up with four figures: average tuition paid ($11,627); median tuition paid ($10,043); estimated average per-pupil spending ($14,534); and estimated median per-pupil spending ($12,534). Using simple math, we learned that average per-pupil spending at D.C. area private schools is $10,000 less than at D.C. Public Schools.

And more from the Washington Examiner.

Excerpt:

In a presentation at the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Patrick Wolf, a University of Arkansas researcher who has studied school choice programs, including OPS, for the Department of Education, said that the data shows that public charter schools and voucher programs educate a higher percentage of disadvantaged and minority children on average than traditional public schools.

About 90 percent of OPS recipients are African American and 9 percent are Hispanic, Wolf says, with 17 percent diagnosed with disabilities. Their families’ average income of $17,356 is well below the federal poverty line. But they still managed to do slightly better than their peers in the District’s public schools.

You can get better performance for much less money, even with more disadvantaged children – it just takes vouchers.

The money for the vouchers would naturally come from closing down the schools that cannot satisfy parents, who will use the voucher to go elsewhere to buy their children’s education. Instead of a monopoly where customers are forced to pay for a product they don’t want just because of where they live (because they are POOR and cannot afford to live elsewhere), parents will have a choice of where to send their children, and schools will have to compete to please parents by providing a good product to buy – a quality education. It will turn the public school system from a monopoly into a free market, where the customer (parents) will be king, and the children will benefit. Only underperforming teachers and their allies in the Democrat party stand to lose.

If Republicans take steps to enact robust school choice using voucher programs NOW, then propose a national voucher program in the 2012 election, then they will win the 2012. This is the winning issue. We need to put the children first and put the underperforming adults last.

Must-see videos on education policy

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Paul Ryan explains why Republicans are doing what they promised to do

Rep. Paul Ryan - GOP Ideas Man
Rep. Paul Ryan - GOP Ideas Man

Here’s the video from The Blog Prof.

Paul Ryan is going to do it because he said he would do it.

If you would like to understand what consumer-driven health care is, read this post from the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt:

If policymakers are serious about real patient-centered, consumer-driven health care reform, they should ensure that their legislative proposals embody six key principles:

  • Individuals are the key decision makers in the health care system. This would be a major departure from conventional third-party pay­ment arrangements that dominate today’s health care financing in both the public and the private sectors. In a normal market based on personal choice and free-market competition, consumers drive the system.
  • Individuals buy and own their own health insurance coverage. In a normal market, when individuals exchange money for a good or service, they acquire a property right in that good or ser­vice, but in today’s system, individuals and families rarely have property rights in their health insur­ance coverage. The policy is owned and controlled by a third party, either their employers or govern­ment officials. In a reformed system, individuals would own their health insurance, just as they own virtually every other type of insurance in virtually every other sector of the economy.
  • Individuals choose their own health insur­ance coverage. Individuals, not employers or government officials, would choose the health care coverage and level of coverage that they think best. In a normal market, the primacy of consumer choice is the rule, not the exception.
  • Individuals have a wide range of coverage choices. Suppliers of medical goods and ser­vices, including health plans, could freely enter and exit the health care market.
  • Prices are transparent. As in a normal market, individuals as consumers would actually know the prices of the health insurance plan or the medical goods and services that they are buying. This would help them to compare the value that they receive for their money.
  • Individuals have the periodic opportunity to change health coverage. In a consumer-driven health insurance market, individuals would have the ability to pick a new health plan on predict­able terms. They would not be locked into past decisions and deprived of the opportunity to make future choices.

And if you’re looking for a nice short podcast on consumer-driven health care, go right here.

If you want a book on this, you can get Regina Hertzlinger’s book (interview here), although I read it, and I found it filled with too many case studies and stories and not enough policy analysis.

UPDATE:

More Paul Ryan: (H/T Hyscience)

And some Michele Bachmann: (H/T Gateway Pundit)

And the House votes to repeal Obamacare, with 3 Democrats joining the Republicans, and no Republicans joining the Democrats.

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Michelle Rhee dismisses 241 teachers from DC public schools

From the ultra left-wing Washington Post. (H/T Wes Widner)

Excerpt:

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced Friday that she has fired 241 teachers, including 165 who received poor appraisals under a new evaluation system that for the first time holds some educators accountable for students’ standardized test scores.

[…]Dismissals for performance are exceedingly rare in D.C. schools — and in school systems nationwide. Friday’s firings mark the beginning of Rhee’s bid to make student achievement a high-stakes proposition for teachers, establishing job loss as a possible consequence of poor classroom results.

The Washington Teachers’ Union said Friday that it will contest the terminations.

[…]Although the teachers dismissed for poor performance represent only about 4 percent of the city’s 4,000-member corps, Rhee also announced Friday that 737 other instructors were rated “minimally effective.” Under IMPACT, they have one year to improve their performance or face dismissal. Rhee declined to speculate on how many might be sacked next year. But she said that over the next two years, “a not-insignificant number of folks will be moved out of the system for poor performance.”

[…]…few tenured educators have faced dismissal for poor performance. Rhee said that according to her staff’s research, no teachers were fired for lack of effectiveness in 2006, the year before she was named chancellor.

[…]The great majority of teachers routinely received evaluations showing that they met or exceeded expectations. At the same time, the District compiled one of the weakest academic records of any urban school system in the United States.

I wrote about Michelle Rhee before here. You need to understand that teacher unions are the backbone of the Democrat party. Every vote for a Democrat politician is a vote against quality education for children.

Must-see videos on education policy

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