• “School choice” ignores how kids lack choice
    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 14 December, 10:18 AM  0 
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    Yesterday the AZ Capitol Times reported (sorry, it’s behind a paywall) that ASU professor David Garcia will be presenting a study on the efficacy of “school choice” schemes (charters and tuition tax credits) vs. fully funding the public schools currently attended by the majority of K-12 students. Dr. Garcia has concluded that:

    [S]chool choice doesn’t work the same as a free market, as the concept has been sold, because it only benefits the choosers, not the overall system…

    …“School choice has been the dominate strategy and it’s not moving Arizona ahead on test scores in the way policy makers thought it would, and the reason is parents don’t choose based on test scores,” Garcia said.

    Garcia said a free market benefits everyone because consumers make rational choices, but parents don’t act as rational consumers, mostly because they view schools as communities rather than businesses and they choose their schools for a host of other reasons beside test scores.

    The “school choice” solution is also deeply flawed because it assumes an equal parental playing field in terms of economics, resources, connections, motivation, etc. There’s a tremendous amount of inequality in traditional public ed as it is due to unfair funding formulas, but school choice creates a crazy quilt system (no matter how much they test, test, test) where the onus is entirely on parents to make the “correct” educational choices among a plethora of them and children are completely at the mercy of the willingness and ability of their parents to do that. It’s a complete abnegation of the entire purpose of public education in Arizona.

    Section 1. A. The legislature shall enact such laws as shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and uniform public school system, which system shall include:
    1. Kindergarten schools.
    2. Common schools.
    3. High schools.
    4. Normal schools.
    5. Industrial schools.
    6. Universities, which shall include an agricultural college, a school of mines, and such other technical schools as may be essential, until such time as it may be deemed advisable to establish separate state institutions of such character.
    B. The legislature shall also enact such laws as shall provide for the education and care of pupils who are hearing and vision impaired.

    That right there is what I am happy to pay taxes for. Not so much for this:

    Arizona kindergartners who attend charter schools are more than twice as likely as their public-school counterparts to skip vaccines because their parents choose to opt out, a new study says.

    The study found that 2,050 Arizona kindergartners did not receive recommended vaccines during the 2010-11 school year under a “personal beliefs” exemption allowed by the state law.

    The analysis of more than 1,000 public and charter schools also found that the typical school with a higher exemption rate is “a charter school attended by predominantly White, higher-income students,” according to the University of Arizona study scheduled to be published online today in the journal Vaccine.

    It’s unknown from the article if certain charter schools are discouraging vaccination or if parents who are disinclined to vaccinate are more likely to choose these charter schools. It is reasonable, however, to predict that there would more pressure to vaccinate from the faculty and other parents in public schools.


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    Donna Gratehouse

    Post Author: Donna Gratehouse

    Bio: I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/

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