School Choice Beats No Choice
I am avidly in favor of school choice for two main reasons. First, no child should be locked into attending an inadequate school, lacking quality and diversity, which under the current system is rewarded for its failure. Secondly, children and parents who hold strong convictions concerning their academic and social objectives need latitude in order to place themselves in an environment which will maximize their learning success.
The ideal choice program, in my opinion, would comprise vouchers, drawn from the child's home district and not exceeding the average amount spent locally per student. A voucher or draft is awarded upon the completion of an in depth interview of both student and parents, guardian or assigned mentor and an interview board consisting of school board and local business representatives, and nominated tax payers. In turn, the draft would be valid at any school in the United States, including institutes for higher learning or for study abroad programs, providing the student has met all application standards of said school. Stakeholders are encouraged to make frugal use of the monies or creatively obtain any excess balance. Those not willing to choose, incapable of making such decisions or deemed hard to place, would be assigned local mentors to aid them in this process. Actively encouraging families to choose involves them more fully in the educational process as a whole.
Opposition will arise focusing on such issues as community fragmentation, rampant unemployment, and territorilaism (outsiders viewed as a potential detriment). Communities described as crime ridden, inner city, lower socio-economic can hold high expectations for their children to become productive members in society through quality educational experiences. Choice latently creates active interest and enthusiasm for learning for the economically disadvantaged. Yes, poor folk should have a choice! Other types of communities concerned with the fragmentation issue will need to creatively find reasons for their members to assemble, interact and socialize in attempting to overcome this threat.
Concern over rampant unemployment is realistic and also indicative of the times. Why should the educational system become exempt? Unfair practices currently exist. Within a district, a teacher with more seniority lands a new position over a gifted professional with less accumulated time. What happened to rewards for a job well done? How do we weed out less talented, ineffective teachers? Creating school competition will help reverse current trends where districts hire teachers with little or no...