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An Interesting Study in Favor of School Choice

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Forum topic by RockyTopScott posted 11-12-2013 02:27 AM 1109 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RockyTopScott

1184 posts in 2943 days


11-12-2013 02:27 AM

My children are grown but now with a grandson I find myself thinking about his future education experience.

I am a proponent of school choice (vouchers) so I read a good bit about it and came upon an interesting 10 year study for a school district near San Antonio, TX.

The findings are overwhelming with success. The report is fairly long in full PDF format but here are a few key points:

For a 10-year period, from 1998-2008, every child in San Antonio’s Edgewood school district was offered a voucher to go to any public or private school they thought would give them the best education possible. The results for the students who chose to leave and go to the school of their choice have been dramatic and unprecedented.

More than 4,000 different students received scholarships during the 10-year period

Less than 1 percent of the students dropped out of school (two students)

More than 400 students graduated during the 10-year period

More than 92 percent of the graduates chose to attend college

Many of these graduates were the first in their families to graduate from high school

98 percent of the students were minorities (97 percent Hispanic)

97 percent of the students were economically disadvantaged

Reading scores went up 21% in the first 4 years

Math scores went up 28% in the first 4 years_

You may not agree with the approach but these findings indicate school choice works particularly for minorities and disadvantaged students.

How do you feel about school choice?

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell


31 replies so far

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Handtooler

1374 posts in 1597 days


#1 posted 11-12-2013 05:19 AM

Absolutely PRO Choice! No questions asked.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@outlook.com

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GFYS

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#2 posted 11-12-2013 05:59 AM

BAM!

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Tedstor

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#3 posted 11-12-2013 11:38 AM

I’m lucky enough to live in a GREAT, well-resourced public school district, so I wouldn’t choose a private school even if I had a choice. However, I’d almost certainly choose vouchers if I was unsatisfied with the local school system.
However-I seem to remember reading a report dealing with D.C. public schools. It studied the charter school vs. public school question. In this particualr case, the charter schools didn’t produce measurably better results over public schools. It doesn’t seem to be an apples to apples comparison.

Test scores were better BUT, there are certain X-factors to consider:
1- Kids in charter schools are there because their parents went to some effort to get them there. Kids with parents that give a hoot about their education are almost invariably going to be better students.
2- Charter schools have no legal obligation to hang on to trouble students. If a kid is disruptive, or otherwise not performing, the charter school can simply flush the kid back into the public school system.
3- Charter schools typically have few (if any) special education programs. Public schools must devote resources to these programs.

All that said, if voucher programs become the norm, public schools will dwindle. The private schools will be forced to accept the kids mentioned above, making them no better than the public schools that everyone escaped from.

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Handtooler

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#4 posted 11-12-2013 11:50 AM

TEDSTOR Very well put. You’ve done your homework. Get an “A” for this report.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@outlook.com

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1979 days


#5 posted 11-12-2013 12:53 PM

Scott:
Actually, my kids grew up in an area of Pennsylvania that had some of the best teachers in the nation in the local public schools. They both have done very well in life due to that foundation.
Now that I too have grandchildren who live in different areas of Pennsylvania, (I of course live in Tennessee), I wonder if my sons, now parents, are looking carefully into the abilities of the local school district they send their kids to.

That being said, although I AM a proponent of school vouchers, there are some drawbacks beyond those that Tedstor pointed out.
My last boss before I retired, he choose to send his one child to a school system in North Georgia instead of local public schools here in SE Tennessee. I think the child did get a slightly better education, but there were other consequences:
-Since the school they choose was not close to home, he had few if any regular friends.
-It was very hard for him to participate in any after school sports, band, etc., even though he is a natural athlete. ( the parents got him involved in BMX to give him an outside activity)
-His social skills suffered.
Now, they have transferred him back into the local public high school. He almost immediately had a circle of friends, although he is stand-offish and somewhat hard to talk to. I don’t know if this is just him, since his parents and grandparents are all outgoing and friendly people, or if the school scenario created this. I tend to believe the latter. His parents are both the type to come right up to you and introduce themselves, (the wife is actually a middle school teacher, and a good one), but he is just the opposite. There is no behavior present in his home to support his personality, so the school scenario might just have been the issue.

Lastly, if vouchers come about, and I remember I am a fan, it will take years for sub-standard schools to catch up, if they do at all. Those left behind will suffer even more. Teachers cannot do two things: They cannot clean up a poor school by themselves, and they cannot prevent a fellow teacher from actively trying to leave a bad school for a good one. Why get a class full of child felons in a school in some poor district when you can teach in a higher income area where all the kids are nice and listen and show up every day? My neighbor two doors down is a special education teacher in an area almost 25 miles away. She is good, and she found a good district where she, and her students, are happy.
And no, the government has NEVER come up with a good plan to fix schools. They flow with the economics of the area where they are located, by and large. There are exceptions, of course, but your chances are slim, if you live in a poor economic district, that your child will get a good education. Hence, vouchers…

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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RockyTopScott

1184 posts in 2943 days


#6 posted 11-12-2013 01:03 PM

This study really contradicts your assertion TEDSTOR.


3. Does school choice create a financial hardship on a school district?

In fact, the results of the Horizon program are quite the opposite, due in part from a very surprising source of income: reduced dropout rates (see question #7 on page 6). Revenues also increased due to the economic development brought about by new housing and other factors within the district. In the years prior to Horizon, Edgewood had experienced an average annual 3 percent decrease in total property values. However, over the course of the Horizon program, property values increased a total of 114.9 percent. As compared to the 1997 base year (pre-Horizon), in a full choice environment, the district’s overall revenues showed biannual increases in years 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 of .2 percent, 5.2 percent, 13.4 percent, 35.5 percent, and 42.0 percent respectively.

4. Does offering school choice cause a mass exodus of students from public education?
At the peak of Horizon program subscription (the 2003-04 school year), 87.2 percent of Edgewood’s students chose to remain in the district’s public schools. The Horizon Program: A Model for Education Reform September 2008 6 Texas Public Policy Foundation . Over the 10-year program, the average percentage of Edgewood students who remained in district schools, despite having the opportunity to transfer, was 90.5 percent.

5. Does school choice cause the best and the brightest students to leave public education?
The opposite proved true. Parents exercising choice were most commonly the parents of low academic performers. Applicants for Horizon vouchers scored at the 37th percentile in math and the 35th percentile in reading and were reported to be on average two years behind grade level by participating schools. Additionally, the population profile of voucher students was virtually identical to non-voucher students in terms of student suspensions, absences, and tardiness. 1. The income level of public school families in Edgewood was 60 percent more than those who chose to leave. 2. Voucher recipients’ families were the poorest of the poor with a total annual income of less than $16,000.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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RockyTopScott

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#7 posted 11-12-2013 01:11 PM

The increase in “competition” made the school district better, as does competition in most environments.

Mary Sanchez, a teacher in Edgewood for 33 years and a Horizon parent, explains some of the dynamics that took place with Edgewood that led to increased teacher pay:

From an internal standpoint, Edgewood had to change in order to better compete with the Horizon Scholarship Program. Everybody from the administrators to the teachers knew that there was a possibility that the district would hemorrhage students with the new program, so we had to become proactive in working to keep our students and to keep parents happy with the school district. We began offering more tutoring options and began to offer more programs to keep students engaged in the education process.

Teacher salaries had to go up in order to compete with other school districts for better teachers. Edgewood knew that they needed a higher caliber of teachers and a pay increase was part of one such initiative. Another initiative, in order to attract more qualified teachers, was to begin recruiting teachers from Iowa. To this day, we have several teachers from Iowa that are still teaching in the Edgewood school district.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Tedstor

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#8 posted 11-12-2013 01:21 PM

Not MY assertions. Just results from another “study” (as I remember them and can not cite[disclaimer]).
Voucher programs were all the rage several years ago in the DC area. Lots of arguments for and against.
I think the bottom line is that if your school district sucks…..nearany remedy will likely yield positive results. If the district is already good, voucher programs are probably a waste of time and can do as much harm than good.
And apparently what works in San Antonio, might not work as well in DC.

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RockyTopScott

1184 posts in 2943 days


#9 posted 11-12-2013 01:36 PM

Agreed TEDSTOR.

I think the biggest problem is these public schools have little competition and do not necessarily strive to be more effective in delivering education.

In the vast majority of cases, a little competition makes the results better for everyone.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Handtooler

1374 posts in 1597 days


#10 posted 11-12-2013 01:48 PM

Rocky, Yes, I’m predicious, but I can’t hel but believe that the Edgwood study is also, in fact, a rsult of the district being in such close proximity to so many military installations. The parental displine required of those members enhances the parental envolvement with the system and their children A factor not skoken to as yet. If the parents care the student iis apt to perform better. Just my $0.02.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@outlook.com

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Gene Howe

8254 posts in 2893 days


#11 posted 11-12-2013 01:56 PM

As a 35 year veteran of Arizona’s public, charter and private school systems, I can say our experiences pretty much echo those of RockyTopScott.
My work was as a contract itinerant Communication Specialist, so I saw a wide range of policies and programs. While it is true that, by and large, the troublesome students often remained in the public systems, those whose parents chose a charter school, became better students. The student/teacher ratio undoubtedly contributed to their success. Well defined and workable discipline policies were an asset, also.
Tedstor hit the nail on the head with his observation that ”Kids in charter schools are there because their parents went to some effort to get them there. Kids with parents that give a hoot about their education are almost invariably going to be better students. ” Parenting matters! Schools, whether private, public or charter ought not be required to parent!!!
Special Education monies follow the student, at least in AZ. If the district chooses, they can supply the specialists to the Charter School, in which case no money is lost. If they choose to relinquish the funding for a particular student, the monies are no different than if the student had remained in their schools. It’s a wash.
That being said, if a charter cannot adequately provide for the physical needs of a particular student, they are under no obligation to accept that student. The well meaning but, often unworkable, mandate to “mainstream” is not applicable to charters.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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RockyTopScott

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#12 posted 11-12-2013 02:06 PM

Gene, would you say the student/teacher ratio was better because less money was spent on administration (Educrats) and more in the classroom?

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Gene Howe

8254 posts in 2893 days


#13 posted 11-12-2013 02:31 PM

Gene, would you say the student/teacher ratio was better because less money was spent on administration (Educrats) and more in the classroom?
Absolutely. Though, probably out of necessity. Charters do not receive the funding typical of public schools.
The admin in most charters consists of a teaching principal and a couple of secretaries.
I’ve seen teachers cleaning (sweeping, dusting cleaning windows, etc) their own rooms after class. You won’t normally see that in a union run public school.
Pride in one’s workplace is infectious.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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RockyTopScott

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#14 posted 11-12-2013 02:39 PM

The union run schools are more concerned about the administrators and the teachers than the students.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Gene Howe

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#15 posted 11-12-2013 02:59 PM

Unions in education are more concerned about dues and their power, than anything else.
Many charter and private school teachers chose less $$ to rid themselves of the caustic work environment engendered by the NEA and AFT.
The precipitous decline in the efficacy of the public systems began with the intrusion of unions into the public schools.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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