Tag Archives: Competition

Secretary of Education rescinds previously awarded D.C. vouchers

Fox News reports on it here: (H/T The Cato Institute)

The Heritage Foundation has a lot more.

Let’s start with a personal experience from one of the 200 low-income households affected.

Put yourself in the shoes of LaTasha Bennett. A single mother living in Washington, D.C., Ms. Bennett is able to send her child to a private school thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Hoping to enroll her daughter in the same private school, Ms. Bennett applied for and recently received a voucher from the Washington Scholarship Fund.

But last week, Ms. Bennett and hundreds of other D.C. parents received a form letter from the U.S. Department of Education informing them that their children wouldn’t be receiving a scholarship.

And more:

Secretary Duncan’s decision to take scholarship money away from low-income families came just days after the Department of Education released a study showing that students participating in the Opportunity Scholarship program had statistically significant better reading scores than students who applied to the program but were not offered a scholarship. The students that were in the program the longest showed notable improvement reading at levels approximately 1.5 to 2 full school years ahead of the sample group.

The data is in. School choice works. And it significantly lower costs. Opportunity Scholarships offered through the program are worth $7,500. Since the participating private schools cannot charge scholarship students more than the amount of their scholarships, that amount is still less than half of the $15,315 that D.C. taxpayers spent per pupil in the 2004–05 school year.

And what about the educations of Barack Obama and Arne Duncan?

Growing up in Hawaii, President Obama attended a private school. Growing up first in Chicago, and now in Washington, Obama’s two daughters attended and still attend a private school. Growing up in Chicago, Secretary Duncan attended a private school. And when he moved to D.C. Secretary Duncan chose to live in Arlington, where good schools for his children are assumed.

But maybe they were just pretty typical progressives, living in an emotional fantasy-land, with no access to facts?

The Wall Street Journal reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

Voucher recipients were tested last spring. The scores were analyzed in the late summer and early fall, and in November preliminary results were presented to a team of advisers who work with the Education Department to produce the annual evaluation. Since Education officials are intimately involved in this process, they had to know what was in this evaluation even as Democrats passed (and Mr. Obama signed) language that ends the program after next year.

Mr. Duncan’s office spurned our repeated calls and emails asking what and when he and his aides knew about these results. We do know the Administration prohibited anyone involved with the evaluation from discussing it publicly. You’d think we were talking about nuclear secrets, not about a taxpayer-funded pilot program.

And the Denver Post’s David Harsanyi reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

When I had the chance to ask Duncan — at a meeting of the Denver Post editorial board on Tuesday — whether he was alerted to this study before Congress eradicated the D.C. program, he offered an unequivocal “no.” He then called the WSJ editorial “fundamentally dishonest” and maintained that no one had even tried to contact him, despite the newspaper’s contention that it did, repeatedly.

When I called the Wall Street Journal, I discovered a different — that is, meticulously sourced and exceedingly convincing — story, including documented e-mail conversations between the author and higher-ups in Duncan’s office. The voucher study — which showed progress compounding yearly — had been around since November and its existence is mandated by law. So at best, Duncan was willfully ignorant.

And why are we surprised? Teacher’s unions funded Obama’s election campaign, not children and parents. The purpose of schools, according to socialists, is to indoctrinate the youth with socialism, moral relativism, secularism, and the religion of global warming. The purpose of schools is not to provide them with an education, so that they can get a job and avoid dependence on the government!

Further study

The Heartland Institute’s series of podcasts on vouchers and school choice.

Arizona Supreme Court rules voucher program unconstitutional

Arizona’s Supreme court has banned their state’s voucher program. 500 students were enrolled and will be allowed to complete the year in their currently schools. (H/T Independent Women’s Forum and Jay P. Greene).

Excerpt from the linked Arizona Republic article:

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the state’s school-voucher programs unconstitutional because they violate a ban against appropriating public money for private or religious schools.

The unanimous decision shuts the door on vouchers in Arizona unless voters agree to a statewide ballot measure to change the state Constitution.

So parents shouldn’t have a choice where their children go for an education. The important thing, according to the socialists, is that the teachers in the failing schools have a guaranteed job and a guaranteed audience. Public schools are not there to serve children – it’s adult day care. All guaranteed unionized jobs are adult day care.

This article from the Alliance for School Choice argues that vouchers provide a better education for students for far less money. If we desire excellent education at reduced cost to taxpayers, then vouchers deliver.  If the goal is allowing adult teachers to insulate themselves from the market demands, so they can continue on in perpetual adolescence at the expense of children and parents, then vouchers should be outlawed.

Excerpt:

Conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas as part of the independent School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP), the report found that students in the program generally posted achievement gains that were somewhat higher than that of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). When compared to children in MPS, students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program experienced statistically significant gains in 7th and 8th grade math.

At the same time, the report concluded that the MPCP continues to save Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year. For FY 2009 alone, the state saved $37 million as a result of the voucher program. While the report is focused on state sources of funding, when federal sources of funding are included, it costs $13,468 to educate an MPS child, versus a maximum of $6,607 to educate an MPCP student.

In a significant finding that undercuts the main arguments of school choice detractors, the study demonstrated conclusively that the presence of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) helped local public schools improve. In the words of the authors: “It appears that Milwaukee Public Schools are more attentive to the academic needs of students when those students have more opportunities to leave those schools.”

The article goes on to note that voucher programs lead to increased parental awareness and involvement in their children’s education.

On a related note, the Pacific Research Institute had this post on the success of charter schools, which are not insulated from competition either, and therefore need to care about student academic performance, instead of left-wing indoctrination.

Excerpt:

The Academic Performance Indicator for OCA is 902, easily surpassing the statewide goal of 800 (out of 1,000). Within five years the charter rose from an API of 736 to 902. “The API is a good indicator after you pass 800 because the students have to work very hard to maintain it,” says Jorge Lopez, principal and executive director of OCA. Most impressive, this charter school succeeded despite receiving thousands of dollars less per student compared with average California public school funding.

The Oakland Charter Academy, for example, earned the 902 API score while receiving $7,211 per student, nearly $4,366 below the state average of $11,547. Yet, the return on investment is higher than the average public school. Consider the Orange Unified School District. It received $9,544 per student and earned a 777 API with a less-challenging student population.

Ninety-five percent of the students at OCA are from low-income families. The OUSD serves 38 percent low-income children. OCA students achieved 75 percent proficiency in reading on the California Standards Test. Fifty-six percent of OUSD students scored proficient in reading.

The article goes on to compare the much worse performance of public schools in the area who spend a lot more money and have far fewer low-income students. The difference is competition. The difference is free market capitalism.

The Republican alternative budget

Tired of trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see? Worried that Obama is going to bankrupt the country? Angry about the planned reduction of charitable giving by 9 billion dollars? Or tax hikes on energy companies that will raise consumer energy prices? Are you doubtful that any amount of tax hikes on the productive sector can pay for all this spending?

Well, I spotted this post outlining the Republican alternative to Obama’s budget over at Investors Business Daily. (H/T Club for Growth)

This is definitely worth reading! The first part reiterates how tax cuts have stimulated the economy and job creation in the past under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The article then list all the details of the GOP budget proposal which would get us similar results.

Instead of socialized medicine, the GOP would lower prices by increasing consumer choice and competition among medical plan suppliers. And they would also introduce a simplified tax system that would reward hard work and productivity:

…[The GOP budget] would establish “a simple and fair tax code with a marginal tax rate for income up to $100,000 of 10%, and 25% for any income thereafter, with a generous standard deduction and personal exemption.”

Prefer the current system? The GOP plan lets you stay in it. The capital gains tax would be cut and the Alternative Minimum Tax would be fixed to prevent huge surprise tax hikes each year.

…businesses with fewer than 500 employees would get a deduction of 20% of their income, so “these engines of growth will continue to fuel our economic recovery and companies can compete with their foreign counterparts, while keeping jobs here at home.”

On energy policy, the plan would open the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas drilling and use part of the federal share of revenues for alternative fuel programs. The Arctic Coastal Plain would be opened for exploration and development. Obstacles to new nuclear power plants would be removed.

Read the whole wonderful thing! And don’t forget: they have a podcast of this article read by the professionals at OutloudOpinion.com. Subscribe here!

Heartland Institute’s podcasts on school choice and education

I waited anxiously for this Heartland Institute series of 10 5-minute podcasts on education to finish, and now it’s finally done!

Here are the links:

  • In episode 0, the introduction, we respond to the question, Why Do We Need School Reform?
  • In episode 1, surveys reveal that parents who choose independent schools do so on the basis of academics, not athletics or convenience.
  • In episode 2, we discuss how allowing tax dollars to follow the child will give parents more control over their child’s education.
  • In episode 3, competition encourages creativity and lessens mediocrity.
  • In episode 4, choice makes parents accountable and frees leaders from excessive regulation.
  • In episode 5, school choice enables teachers to recover lost freedoms.
  • In episode 6, funding should be adequate to enable parents to chose high-quality schools, but parents should be allowed to add their own dollars.
  • In episode 7, voucher programs help teachers by paving the way for better teachers to receive higher pay.
  • In episode 8, private schools should be allowed to retain their self-government. This autonomy is in the best interest of the public.
  • In episode 9, school choice promotes and protects the institutions and organizations that create and protect democracy.
  • In episode 10, school choice creates a genuine free market for education, free from rules.

The booklet that the series is based on is here as a PDF.