"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What is the most "transformational" sentence in the "Vision for MO Public Education" plan? (hint: it's not new taxes)

Cato Institute writes about school choice and true innovation:

Douglas County School District officials say an unexpected level of interest in a retreat exploring school choice today and Saturday is forcing them to add an overflow room and a video feed to allow the public to watch the discussion. The school board is investigating a voucher program that would allow students to use public money to help with tuition at approved religious schools and other private ones. The two-day retreat will discuss the findings of a school-choice task force that has been mulling several issues, including vouchers.

The board will officially discuss the school-choice recommendations at a meeting Tuesday night, during which the public will be allowed to comment. No Colorado school district has a voucher program.

This might actually be a school board interested in transformation in the truest sense. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and revel in the thought: Taxpayer money (translation: YOUR money) can be used for non-public schools. Tax money is in the control of the taxpayer, and the taxpayer is free to use it at schools the taxpayer chooses to send his/her child. What a novel idea! The taxpayer has control over the way his/her money is spent to educate his/her child! The parent is the authority in choosing an educational placement for the child and can use the money he/she has paid into the educational system. This is the ultimate empowerment of parents/taxpayers and the true transformation of education.

I have a suggestion for the school board personnel and superintendents assembled in the seven task groups for "Vision for Missouri Public Education": ditch the platform of Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and Missouri School Boards' Association (MSBA) and do something that will truly empower children and taxpayers, NOT the lobbying groups. As Cato writes:

Keep your fingers crossed that Douglas County officials resist special-interest groups that are seeking to thwart this reform. The teacher unions have been vicious in their efforts to stop this kind of development. If Douglas County succeeds in putting kids first, this could break the logjam and lead to better education policy across the nation.

Why don't the taxpayers in Missouri have the "vision" of putting kids first instead of unions and lobbyists? Why isn't DESE resisting special-interest groups instead of having them draft educational policy? Why aren't the legislators reviewing a conflict of interest in lobbying groups setting policy for a state agency? As the home page in "Vision for Missouri Public" Education states:

"In the absence of any vision and/or plan, proposals such as vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits, etc. will be seen as alternatives."

This sentence is the most transformational sentence in the entire plan in the Missouri vision. Let's take that sentence on face value. Cancel the workshops and stop trying to figure out way to raise revenues for mandates and more control over curriculum. Give parents and students a real choice....the alternatives. THAT'S the "vision" DESE needs to adopt.

1 comment:

  1. Let's do this + transform all of the public schools into charter schools: Principal level control of hiring and budgets and local parent-led accountability. Put an end to the central planning.


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