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Parents must be empowered with school choice and local control

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Let me be the first to thank New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio for smacking all of us up side the head with the harsh reality of just how broken our education system is in today's highly charged political climate.

He thinks it's a good idea to close some of the city's best charter schools. Why of course, because it is causing harm to some of the public schools. John Hawkins brings this progressive mendacity into crystal clear focus: "The primary goal of our education is not to educate our students; it's to sustain the teachers' unions and fatten the bank accounts of college professors and administrators. This is why the education establishment hates private schools, school vouchers and charter schools, even though they do a better job of educating our students than our public school system."

As John C. Goodman notes, "Success Academy 4 in NYC is where 80 percent of the students passed the math test and 59 percent the English test. The co-located middle school the mayor is protecting and where many of those 194 charter students would end up is where 5 percent of students passed the math test and 11 percent passed the English test. "Clearly, this progressive Democrat and many of his brethren appear willing to sacrifice millions of poor children in order to support teacher's unions, big government, higher taxes and more government spending.

As the Brookings Institution, the CATO Institute, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell among others remind us, parents of financial means already have school choice. They can afford to move to a neighborhood that has better schools or send their children to private schools. Of course there are some on the left who genuinely want to liberate poor children from bad schools, but they risk the wrath of their party, the unions and headstrong school administrators.

If we can just for a minute, push all the bureaucratic power and control issues off the table and look at the issue through the lens of an innocent child, where does it lead? In my opinion, the inequality of educational opportunity in this country rests primarily on the shoulders of progressive pigheadedness and a controlling, collectivist mindset. John Goodman appears to be painfully correct when he describes this issue in layman terms: "poor kids are almost always enrolled in bad schools. Rich kids are almost always in good schools." In some large inner-city schools, our biased education system has caused some schools to become more segregated than schools were in 1954 when the Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court case outlawed state schools that segregated black students from white students. So, just where are those civil rights leaders now?

Almost everyone with a clear eye can see that our high school education is not what it used to be decades ago. A column in the Jan. 26, 2014, edition of the Washington Post reported, "In almost every state, the amount of money spent per pupil has more than doubled in the past 40 years." Neal McCluskey of the CATO Institute brings us the shameful cost analysis, inflation adjusted for 2013 for K through 12 education: 1970 - $56,903 and 2010 - $164,426. Perhaps this is due to a perverse paradoxical incentive. "We just can't possibly do any better unless you give us more money."

Chad Mathis, physician who is now running for elected office in Alabama notes, "Real education reform starts by getting Washington out of every parent's business. Local control, expanded choice, and an experience that fits the needs of every student should be the goal." Common Core is the central planners latest attempt at putting the government squarely between parents and their children. Behind the sweet-sounding rhetoric is a plan to wipe out free market school choice.

Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane University and MSNBC host, gleefully reveals the true liberal progressive agenda: "We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families." She goes on to say that kids belong to whole communities and once we realize this, we'll make better investments in government indoctrination of children. If that doesn't chill you to your "uncommon core," then you must be comatose or a liberal ideologue.

Check out the wonderful documentary, "Waiting for Superman" which reveals how the bureaucratic tentacles of the powerful teachers' unions have stymied educational choices and diminished the possibility that children from poor families will get an equal chance at a good education. The bottom line is that parents must be empowered through more choice with private schools, charter schools, vouchers, competition and local control for all families, not just the the upper classes. That is the way to provide the impetus for positive change in our stagnating school systems. It won't be easy to get there, especially with so many Republicans having bought into the fraud that is "Common Core."

Russ Wiles