by Stephen Smith
Politicians do it, educators do it, the 1 percent do it, executives do it and even your favorite Hollywood stars do it.
If the people of School Choice 2020 (sponsored by The California Taxpayers Union) are successful in their next campaign, you will be able to do it, too. What is it that they do? They send their children to the finest K-12 schools available. Their children receive all the advantages a fine education can provide.
With your help and support, your children will not be prevented from attending the same fine schools that the elite do because you live in the wrong zip code. It will not matter if you are working for minimum wage or living paycheck to paycheck. Issues of race, class and gender for admission become irrelevant. It will not matter if that great school you want your child to attend is public, private or parochial. If your student is prepared and willing to do the work, you insure they attend and there is a seat available, you will be able to afford it. Never has access to a fine education been this fair or this accessible, with schools competing to doing their very best to earn your trust and to provide your child the finest education possible.
You might be thinking, “Hold on a minute – my child is going to a great school and I am very happy with the education they are getting.” Congratulations, you are fortunate, indeed, and there is no need for you to make any changes. Unfortunately, many in our public schools systems are not faring as well. In many of our schools the graduation rates are poor, and if they do graduate, they need much remedial work before they will be prepared to embark on a college education. Poor reading and writing skills are common for many new college enrollees. The California Department of Education has just reported that 110 of LAUSD schools need comprehensive improvement and outside help. Shockingly, 56 are in the bottom 5 percent. Call it the worst of the worst. The state or the LAUSD have not offered solutions or advice on what actions the parents should take. Overwhelmingly, these schools are in minority and impoverished neighborhoods. Historically, some of these under-performing schools have been referred to as “failure factories.” Interestingly, students in the same neighborhoods who have been fortunate enough to attend a parochial or charter school have very high graduation rates and college admission levels. Under our current system, where money for education follows the zip code, the students in these failing schools are left without options and have a dim future. Some parents may be concerned about their child’s safety or may prefer an education that includes teaching moral values. Without wealth, or if they are low-income, they are trapped. Many of our schools are failing in achieving the proper role of education. Their students are not graduating or being prepared to face a complex world. The problem is not new.
In his “Report for University of Virginia” (1818), Thomas Jefferson explained the proper role for public education:
“The objects of… primary education [which] determine its character and limits [are]: To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing; to improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; to understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either; to know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains, to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment; and in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.”
The solution is to come up with a system where all children can have the same options and opportunities as those who are more blessed. The goal is to achieve that standard of education for your children, which Thomas Jefferson so eloquently laid out for us. That solution is what School Choice 2020 is seeking to achieve.
The solution begins with a very simple idea. Tax money being allocated for education follows the student and does not stay in the zip code. It supports the idea that IT IS YOUR MONEY to spend on YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION and YOUR CHOICE how and where it spent. If you love your local public school, great. Spend it there. If you like the challenges and parental involvement of a Charter School, spend it there. If you wish your child’s education to include moral and spiritual development, spend it on a religiously sponsored school. If you wish to give the challenge of a classical education as advocated by Thomas Jefferson to your children, you may do that, too. This will force all schools both public and private to improve and compete for your educational dollar. The only losers will be the “failure factories” and educators who care more about themselves than your child’s future.
A Call to Action
Michael Alexander, president of The California Taxpayers Union and co-sponsor of School Choice 2020 has put together a team to draft legislation for an initiative to provide educational options for the people of California. Getting an initiative on the ballot will take a massive effort to obtain signatures of registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. This is your opportunity to effect dramatic positive change that will make education in the Golden State truly golden.
Please consider registering on the website to be kept up-to-date on progress and what you can do to make it happen. (Be patient, as the site is new). This idea has long been a dream of mine, and I hope that the more you learn and think, it will be a dream of yours, as well. What would do with your $15,000 per-child share of the educational budget?
Please help “Make the Dream Happen” by registering at https://www.schoolchoice2020.org, or https://www.californiataxpayersunion.org. Michael Alexander can be heard on “Radio Free Los Angeles” AM Radio 870, The Answer at 8:00 p.m. every Sunday night.