A LYS Superintendent sends in the following:
Yesterday, we outlined the path to vouchers. A path that has nothing to do with parent choice and everything to do with tax breaks for affluent parents. Today, we will test the “Parent Choice” misdirection play of the voucher proponents.
Why limit parent choice to just choosing schools? After all, it seems disingenuous to demand vouchers using the mantra of parent choice and then limit the choices parents have. That’s no choice at all. It is still the government making choices for parents and giving you the illusion of choice. And why are parents allowing Austin to tell them they must leave their local public school if they want school choice? Why can’t parents have school choice in their local public school?
The limitations of parent choice in local public schools are put in place by Austin, and the limitations can be easily removed, which is consistent with the conservative belief of “deregulation.” If we are going to have parent choice, let’s go all in. I have a proposition for parent choice that will transform existing local public schools into the type of schools parents want. I ran some of these ideas by some advocacy and parent groups, and the ideas were well received. How many parents are leaving local public schools because of high stakes testing and ridiculous standards of accountability that the parents simply don’t agree with or understand? How many parents leave local public schools because they want more input into the curriculum and graduation requirements for their children? How many of those parents would return to traditional public schools if the parent could choose the level of testing and accountability for their child? I posed this question and this is the response I received from the Texas Parents Union:
“We suspect many parents have exited the system due to overemphasis on test results and “achievement gap mania.”
True parent choice does not come from some limited menu of options generated in Austin or D.C. This plan for parent choice is simple and it’s virtually free:
1. Parents work with educators in their local public schools to develop a course of study for their child.
2. The parent could even work with their local public school to choose instructional delivery methods: traditional, on-line, and/or blended. The options are many. The parent may choose to have math traditionally taught, but may choose to take English on-line. Some parents may see no need for their child to have art and will choose to omit it from their child’s curriculum.3. Parents choose the test level and accountability standard for their child, including the option of none. Parents work cooperatively with educators in their local public schools to make this decision, much like the current ARD process in special education.4. Parents are free to use advocates to help advise them during the process of making choices for their child.5. Parents are not locked into their choices; they have a true, free range of choices and can change and customize their choices as needed for the best interest of their child.6. Neither Austin nor D.C. gets a say. After all, it’s about parent choice.7. Once the parent decides the school is failing their child, the parent can choose another school. Again neither Austin nor D.C. gets a say. It’s about parent choice.8. Each local public school is free to be what each parent wants it to be. Constraints on what a public school can do for parents are removed. After all, why is the government requiring parents to leave their local public school in order to have choice? Virtually all constraints that deny parents choice in their local public school are put in place by Austin. Remove the constraints, deregulate.9. Reams of the Texas Education Code can be eliminated. It may even be possible to eliminate or drastically change the role of TEA. TEA could turn into the organizer of the Regional Education Service Centers. In this capacity the Service Centers and TEA answer to the school districts and help provide the resources and options parents are choosing in their local public school.This is a simple plan and the cost is negligible. If a parent wants an education for their child through the 12th grade but thinks testing for their child should end in 8th grade with a basic skills test (or no test ever, at any grade level), then so be it. It’s about parent choice and what right does government have to negate that choice?
So there it is, true parent choice, not the choices Austin allows parents. I say this and believe it: if the government refuses to do this for parents, their intention is not parent choice, their intention is something else and parents are merely being used. Don’t be used. Do not let the government force you out of your local public school in order to have a choice. I will leave you with an excerpt from one of Vincent’s famous letters to Theo discussing the works of Zola:
We’re used to insipidities of that kind, to such pretty lies, that we reject powerful truths with all our might. ~ Vincent Van Gogh to Theo Van Gogh, July 2nd, 1883, The Hague.
Parents, reject the pretty lies and demand the truth, and true choice. Take back your public schools.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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