“School choice” ignores how kids lack choice

13 Dec 2012 08:36 pm
Posted by: Donna

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.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by stephen ehre on December 13, 2012 9:33 pm

    One of the least talked about and worst aspect of Charters, especially in the poorer schools is that the most motivated parents now are associated with Charters. The public schools have lost the voices of the most motivated parents. The WHOLE REPUBLICAN SCHEME is to privatize education because that is where the money is. It has NOTHING to do with education. Wake UP!!

  2. Comment by Amy on December 14, 2012 9:31 am

    FYI: Dr. Garcia was on Horizon last night. discussing the findings.
    http://www.azpbs.org/video/horizon.php?vidId=2331
    Lets keep in mind that school choice is not an exclusively Republican idea. My very liberal mom runs two charter schools in urban neighborhoods (NY/NJ) based on a progressive model and emphasizing “ethics, public service and social justice.”

  3. Comment by Suzanne on December 14, 2012 11:30 am

    Our representatives are not interested in providing a higher quality of education in Arizona.
    It is, as Stephen suggests above and Senator Yarbrough said, it is about “free money”.
    “Sen. Yarbrough is the primary sponsor of the many revisions over the years to the state’s tuition tax-credit law, which directs dollar-for-dollar tax credits to private-school tuition payments. In 2010, the middle-man organizations created to manage the flow of money from taxpayer to student — groups known as school- tuition organizations, or STOs — collected $43 million.”
    See: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/20120305taxpayer-money-senate-finance.html?nclick_check=1

    “Arizona’s regulations on charter schools are relatively lax. The STATE ALLOWS CHARTERS TO SEEK EXEMPTIONS FROM STATE LAWS THAT REQUIRE SCHOOLS TO OBTAIN COMPETITIVE BIDS for goods or services.” With these exemptions, local charters buy their supplies and books from family and board members. ““Board members and administrators from more than a dozen state-funded charter schools are profiting from their affiliations by doing business with schools they oversee.
    The deals, worth more than $70 million over the last five years, are legal, but critics of the arrangements say they can lead to conflicts of interest.” http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/20121016insiders-benefiting-charter-deals.html?nclick_check=1

  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on December 15, 2012 2:23 pm

    Liberals, pffft.
    Haven’t you ever wondered how the 2% plans to keep it at 2%?
    Charters try to drop the 47% down so there’s more left over for the job creators to invest personal…uh wisely to increase the service industry.

    If a charter head annoys you ask them if they’ve read the Stanford CREDO study.
    A supplemental report, with an in-depth examination of the results for charter schools in Arizona
    found that reading and math gains were significantly lower in charter school students compared
    to their traditional public school peers.

    Ooops, FACTS are such a Democratic thing. I furgot.

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