Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's REALLY Think Long And Hard About Vouchers

Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is trying a statewide voucher program for families earning less than $60,000 a year. What I'm always concerned about with vouchers is, what happens to the school system left behind? Though there needs to be some shake up, I think this is not really well thought out. People forget, public schools have to take everybody, no matter the issue, no matter the problem. Also, what qualifies the school to teach the information that we need as a society:

The school willing to accept the most voucher students -- 314 -- is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition. 
The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding. 
At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains "what God made" on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution."We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children," Carrier said.

Uh-huh…yeah. We live in the 21st century and we're still debating evolution, the basis of scientific thought. That same scientific thought that allows a Steve Jobs or a Ben Carson to exist. Are we sure we want our future doctors and researchers learning that things don't evolve? Like bacteria and the oh so famous computer worm that escaped from Iran centrifuges? We want to give our money to schools that don't believe in such things?

Now I'm sure there are well deserving schools which are privately run that are great. Let me explain, in a nutshell, why many private schools often have a great track record: THEY CAN TAKE WHO THEY WANT AND REJECT THOSE THAT DON'T FIT! The public school system cannot reject the autistic kid who masturbates in a corner while you're teaching class yet not tell you the teacher, what the problem is due to privacy issues (true story). They cannot reject the kid who disrupts the class over and over and over and over and over and over (and over) again by talking, cursing, walking around the room, and throwing things.  They cannot reject the manic depressive 10 year old who rolls around the floor and screams at the top of his/her lungs for 15 minutes in class.  They cannot reject the student who just transferred in who cannot speak ANY ENGLISH WHATSOEVER.  Nor can they reject the student whose parents work long hours and have little time to do parenting activities like check homework, or make sure the child goes to bed before 10pm.  They must service all children, no matter their status, no matter their parental or family issues, no matter their health, NO MATTER WHAT. I'm not saying that the public school system and all teachers are perfect; far from it. But to not take into consideration the reasons why private schools can do good jobs with certain students is extremely short sided. 

Let me say another thing. One main reason children at private schools do better is BECAUSE THE PARENTS ARE PAYING FOR IT. When you pay for something, you're going to get your money's worth. Also, if you are paying for education, most likely, you've got a very involved parent, heavily vested in their child's successful education.  Louisiana will pay for $8000 of a child's education. Last time I checked the best private schools are generally about…oh..lets see here…$26,000…for pre-school.  It goes up a few thousand once they actually get into kindergarden. My child better do well if I'm paying for a mid sized luxery car every year to get that child educated.

I don't know about y'all, but I pay for all my child's after school activities and I will tell you that she's going every time, no matter what, unless she's sick as a dog.  She will learn that dance, practice that karate chop, read that book, whatever she has to do because I paid for that daggum class!! Don't you waste my money, chile….(see me with hands on hips in standard mother you-bedda-not-mess-wit-me pose)

Also, are these private schools tested? Do their teachers have to pass all the same type of evaluation processes that public school teachers do? Do they have to take the same No-Child-Left-Behind pain in the ass child anxiety producing tests that the public school kids do?  I'm a Christian, but I don't want my tax dollars going to a school that does no better than a public school and doesn't teach basic science and math concepts.  I don't want my money going to a school with specific political agendas beyond the edification and upliftment of children's education.  And if the private school happens to be an islamic or wiccan or a buddihst based school, would money go to them as well? Isn't church and state supposed to be separate? Would those same voucher advocates be for tax money going to those types of schools?

I know that there are new ideas that need to be tried to improve education, but we have to really think clearly about this giving money to any private school simply because it's private. I'm not so much anti-voucher program, I'm anti-dumb-voucher program.

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