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School Scope: Parent Objects to My Position on School Choice
By Norm Scott
The WAVE received a letter commenting on my column (Vouchers
are Coming, Vouchers are Coming!)link -
regarding the privatization agenda of Donald Trump and his proposed Education
Secretary Betsy DeVos. The author, a public school parent, wrote, “If you
publish my remarks please omit my name to protect my daughter.” Since The WAVE
doesn’t print anonymous letters, I’m using this column to print the letter here.
The facts stated in the letter about school performance have not been verified
since we do not know what school his daughter attends. I understand the
position of a parent who has a negative view of the zoned school his child
attends and feels vouchers and charters and religious schools are better
options and calls for the oft-misused “choice” as an answer. The letter also
touches on a number of other issues, including my attack on Trump education
secretary Betsy DeVos – too many to respond in one column. So I will do a
series of responses over the next few columns.
For today I’ll just say there is a direct correlation
between student performance and family economic means, no matter what the
school. Thus a school with high numbers of students with high poverty levels
will look bad statistically even if per student spending looks high on paper.
The average is often bumped up by the high costs of addressing special needs
students. Here is a quick breakdown of average costs per student in the NYC
District Name: New York City Department Of Education
Instructional Costs per Student: $16,177, 80%
Instructional Salaries per Student:$8,677, 43%
Instructional Employee Benefits per Student:$4,792, 24%
Other Instructional per Student: $2,708, 13%
Support Services Costs per Student: $4,099, 20%
Total Instructional & Support Costs per Student: $20,276
- See more at:
The ultimate aim of putting schools in the hands of
privatizers is to lower the costs of the teaching staff. In one public school
in Brooklyn co-occupied by Eva Moskowitz’Success Academy charter chain, which has 40 schools in the city only one
teacher remains after 3 years. How good an idea is it to have massive teacher
churn with inexperienced and often non-certified and untrained teachers? Taking
money out of public schools to give vouchers to people to go to religious
schools on a national level would be a massive violation of the separation of
church and state that was one of the basics of the establishment of this
nation, where many settlers were running away from religious persecution and
didn’t want to see the state playing any official role.
Check out a piece written by Howard Schwach, former WAVE
editor and founder of this School Scope column, published at his On Rockaway
web site where he touches on democracy and public schools. “I have often written that public education
is the touchstone of our democracy. If kids or all races and religions are not
brought together for their school years, they will never understand each other
and democracy will suffer. There is a broad consensus in America that public
schools must be protected, despite the fact that many are struggling to fulfill
their core mission of educating all children.” Howie also delves into Betsy
DeVos’ path of destruction which has left Michigan schools in disarray: https://onrockaway.com/commentary-trumps-education-commissioner-pick-wants-to-destroy-public-education-and-thats-not-hyperbole/.
Here is the parent’s letter – I hope to have some more dialogue with him and
he’s welcome to contact me for a chat.
Let's Try School
“Mr. Scott’s recent
editorial objected to school vouchers because he believes it will create a
withering away of our public education and our democracy.I hate to break this to him, but our public
education is already broken and our representative republic is in danger.New York City spends over $23,000 per student
per year, and yet my daughter’s zoned school has a passing rate of 11% in
English and 7% in math on the statewide exams.At our nearest high school, only 11% of the students graduate
college-ready.I have concluded that too
often the education bureaucracy is more interested in the needs of the people
that work for the institution than helping children.This is a cruel disservice to the taxpayer,
country, and most importantly to our children.
Too often quality
public education in our country is dependent on the ability to live in affluent
communities.I see too many parents take
on too much debt to live near a quality school.I see too many working poor parents spend too much precious money on
prep programs hoping to get their children into quality schools.Every child in the United States deserves an
opportunity to be educated to their abilities regardless of their parent’s
Ad Hominem attacks on
the Secretary of Education nominee, attacking people’s motives for their votes,
attacking private schools, or attacking religious schools does not help your
argument.The harsh reality is our
current education system is failing and major changes are needed. I can only
conclude that this systematic failure requires a complete overhaul of our
education system.Expanding school
choice is best way to reach children of all socio-economic levels and is the
most efficient way to realign our education system to the needs of the actual
students.Charter schools and vouchers
need to be tried and, where successful, should be built upon and expanded.”
Norm spews ad Hominem attacks daily at ednotesonline.org.