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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

America Is Choosing Educational Freedom . . .

Patrick B. McGuigan
by Patrick B, McGuigan, Center for Educational Freedom, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs: You might say, in the immortal words of Charles Dickens, that when it comes to education reform, particularly choice, these are “the best of times, and the worst of times.

On the downside, endless legal challenges continue to arise every time a choice system is enacted or implemented. On the upside is the ever-expanding scope of education choice.

While many existing programs focus on assisting children with special needs, an increasing number empower greater numbers of children and parents to access the educational system of their choice.

Often is heard the expression, “School choice is not a panacea.” Well, nothing in this fallen world is a panacea. There will always be new challenges and difficulties, even in the best-designed systems, administered by the best-intentioned people. But too many public school districts are poorly designed and administered by people determined to deny parents and children effective options.

Despite the wishes of foes, America is in the midst of a Renaissance of options destined to transform positively every aspect of American schooling.  . . .

There are now 14 tax-credit scholarship programs in 11 states, including Oklahoma. There are 18 outright voucher systems in 12 states (including Oklahoma) and in the nation’s capital city. Individual tax credits and deductions to support choice exist in six states.

In Arizona, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are providing a means for children to access better schools—whether they are public or private.

The Arizona program holds, arguably, the greatest promise for the future. There is now in place a rational system of accountability as the program grows. The Arizona ESA system is still relatively small in numbers of students—but it is doubling every year.

And, there’s good news: On October 1, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the ESA. In the majority opinion, the court ruled the program “enhances the ability of parents of disabled children to choose how best to provide for their educations, whether in or out of private schools. No funds in the ESA are earmarked for private schools. Thus, we hold that the ESA does not violate” the Arizona constitution. The case now moves to the state Supreme Court.

The Louisiana “Course Choice” program, pioneered by Gov. Bobby Jindal, drew several thousand participants in its first weeks. It allows use of tax resources to get students online or other access to courses they might otherwise miss. The most popular subject areas in the early wave are Spanish, math, algebra, biology, and civics.

Initial enthusiasm among Louisiana’s advocates was dampened somewhat in late summer, when the program empowering thousands of high-schoolers came under direct attack from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration. Jindal intends to fight for the program, all the way.

Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program for special-needs children has been in place for three years. It won an important procedural decision in 2012, but is under renewed attack from a group of anti-choice educators seeking a declaratory judgment.  . . .

Anyone who spends a few years studying education in America will hear the frequent mantra about the importance of meeting every child where they are in terms of ability, learning styles, and so forth. Yet the government system’s rigidity and lack of rigor often conspires against these noble sentiments.

Educational choice is delivering on the promise of content delivery aiming at every child and in every setting.

Lindsey Burke, of the Heritage Foundation, detailed the intriguing range of choices being exercised in the nascent Arizona ESA program. While 65.5 percent of participants make a “traditional” choice—to access a private school—an impressive 34.5 percent are making what she characterized as “customized choices,” including tutoring, online course work, textbooks, testing, therapy, and curriculum options.

The gurus of choice at the Friedman Foundation and their allies, including Dr. Michael McShane of the American Enterprise Institute, noted that the push for more choice is slowly filling the capacity of existing schools or “seats.” Over the next decade, the challenge is to encourage high-quality schools to expand and to create new high-quality systems.

. . .  Educational freedom is the future. Time to embrace it.  --- Read Full Article
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Patrick McGuigan is editor of CapitolBeatOK.com. He is the editor of seven books on legal policy, and the author or co-author of three books, including Ninth Justice: The Fight for Bork. This year the Washington Post political blog, “The Fix,” designated McGuigan one of the three best political reporters in Oklahoma.

Tags: school choice, in review, educational freedom NSERT TAGS To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 4:25 PM - Post Link

1 Comments:

Anonymous Tami Greever said...

What stands out in this article: 1. parents do care, and this builds the common ground to freedom and liberty for all, 2. Local is best for these decisions and 3. The Governor MATTERS! Please notice that it is Governor Bobby Jindal leading the way for his state. This is why I whole-heartedly support Curtis Coleman for Governor of Arkansas --- the only Republican candidate speaking out for school choice under local control.

10/28/2013  

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