In response to the 12/6/2012 post, “The Hidden Agenda of Choice – Part 3,” a Superintendent replies:
To the author of the post and fellow LYSer: Thanks for keeping the discussion going. I have a few thoughts. One, you are correct on “Fallacy #1” as it was originally posted. It should read “soft (but real) requirements for continued attendance of the child.” I agree that as posted there is no constitutional problem. Traditional public schools have to take all children within their boundaries and there exists no mechanism to remove them for performance, attendance, or discipline. As to “Fallacy #2,” I once again agree with you, in part. However, one bureaucratic entanglement charter schools are not susceptible to is compulsory education laws. Charters can choose their kids at the enrollment and cull them as needed. Interestingly one solution that has been proposed in lieu of vouchers is ending compulsory education. I support Diane Ravitch’s position on charters: charters should take and keep all children and then we can truly determine the efficacy of the charter movement. However, you are certainly correct in pointing out all the state performance and monitoring data to which charters are subject. That just goes to demonstrate that government and bureaucracy essentially destroys everything it touches. Given a few more laws and enough time, there will likely be very little to distinguish public charter schools from traditional public schools. Once the door of vouchers is open, the anti-Midas touch of government will begin to systematically destroy private education. As to “Fallacy #3,” clarification is needed. For a traditional public school to select students to enroll and to reserve the right to cull them would most certainly be deemed unconstitutional, yet many charter schools (and to be fair many traditional public school magnet programs) do just this. I am not saying that charter schools violate the constitution. What I am saying is charter schools get to play by a different set of rules, a set of rules that if used by traditional public schools would be deemed unconstitutional. You pointed out no fallacy in “Fallacy #4.” Actually, I support private schools. If we want them to survive, vouchers are a bad idea. Private schools will be assimilated Borg style once they accept public voucher money. Don’t believe any guarantees to the contrary. Any guarantee given today in order to pass a voucher law can be rescinded at any time in the future. The very influential Texas Association of Business has already stated that if private schools accept public money, they should be held to state accountability standards. I wish “Fallacy #5” were a fallacy. It would be more convenient if this were a conspiracy theory and I could be dismissed as a loon. The Cato institute published a very good piece on vouchers in 1997. The goal is an eventual total “separation of school and state.” Here is a brief excerpt: It is safe to say that even advocates of vouchers who are not committed to the complete separation of school and state believe vouchers would lead to a major contraction of government-run schooling. They rarely say so in public because claims by defenders of the status quo that “vouchers would destroy the public schools” still move the public to oppose reform and change. So supporters of vouchers avoid saying that. But when the microphone is turned off, most proponents of vouchers would say that, under a voucher system, many government schools would go out of business. We have had our heads hidden in the sand if we believe this is “conspiracy theory.” Anti-public school advocates are writing and publishing their intentions, and vouchers are THE key to their plans. As to “Fallacy #6,” you point out no fallacy once again. When I wrote Pretty Lies, Powerful Truths, my solution is purely theoretical. However, the need for charter school expansion and vouchers could be eliminated if we simply removed the barriers to the Texas home-ruled district law passed in 1995. http://www.texaspolicy.com/press/tppf-report-reduce-obstacles-creation-home-rule-districts-campus-charters A home-ruled district would allow many of the solutions (not all) proposed in Pretty Lies, Powerful Truths, to be implemented.
SC Response A significant point of clarification and background information. In terms of compulsory attendance, the charter school district Superintendent (and LYSer) who wrote the post to which you are responding only serves the toughest student populations in the state, children in residential psychiatric care and state and federal prisoners. So out of every Superintendent I have ever met (including you and me) he gets to say, “I educate them all,” and really mean it.
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