The original rationale for “school choice” in Indiana was to empower parents with limited resources to take their kids out of “failing schools” and improve their education by putting them in better schools. Advocates for public funding of alternatives to traditional public schools barely even nod toward those original rationales anymore. Vouchers are available to even families that are relatively well-to-do. There is no requirement that the student has ever been in a public school, failing or otherwise. And, the evidence reflects that, on the whole, student outcomes are worse when they are moved out of the traditional public schools. Steve Hinnefeld has an excellent post on the subject today.
[T]horough evaluations of large-scale voucher programs – in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio and Washington, D.C. – found overwhelmingly negative effects on learning as measured by test scores.
“We’ve seen some of the biggest drops in test scores that we’ve ever seen in the research community for people who take vouchers and go to private schools,” he said.
The impact on math scores, in some cases, was twice as large as the test-score decline associated with the pandemic, he said. It was on the scale of what New Orleans students lost when Hurricane Katrina shut down schools and forced families from their homes.
“They suffered that badly, in terms of their test scores,” he said. “We’re talking about nine or 10 months loss of learning. It’s massive.”
As always where Steve’s posts are concerned, I recommend reading the whole thing. So, if they’re actively hurting student outcomes, why do we keep throwing money at charters and private school vouchers instead of devoting that money to our public schools? Because, and I’d advise you to sit down dear reader, it was never about helping poor kids get out of failing public schools. “School choice” is about 1) subsidizing religious education, 2) weakening teacher’s unions, and 3) diverting public funds to friends and well-wishers of school choice advocates. Many have suggested that it’s also about re-segregating the public schools. But that wasn’t part of my original big 3, so I’ll just mention it in passing.
Charters can complement traditional public schools with tight regulation like what we’ve seen in Massachusetts. Maybe vouchers can too. But that’s not what Indiana will ever do because that’s not the point of the exercise. From the local level on up to the federal level, it’s important to vote for people who categorically support our traditional public schools. It’s important because there is more to the “public” part of public schools than merely government funding. It denotes a population with a common interest. We are not merely a collection of individuals, workers, consumers, or taxpayers. The concept of citizens and the public are closely aligned. Public education isn’t important merely because it serves the public, it is important because it creates the public. The school’s role as a public institution is something that often gets left out or ignored when the subject of “school choice” and vouchers are brought up. Disregard of the public school’s role in creating the public is a fundamental flaw in the “money-follows-the-child” model of funding education. And, as it turns out, school choice doesn’t help improve educational outcomes in any case.
Seperation between church and state seem to be eroding. Your only hope is for the people to come out and vote for their Democrat candidates.
That being said maybe it is time for the public schools to push for better curriculum from the top down. Teach students not going to college real life math skills and more interesting books to read in English.
How about explaining how to get house, personal and car loans, along with budgeting and the good and bad decisions a person can make with credit and credit cards.
Start history from now and work your way backwards comparing today’s history with events that happened in the past. Talk about each party’s accomplishments. (may have to back up to Obama) and how each party shaped our country,.why our wars came about.and how they might have been stopped.
The public schools need to promote their programs and the extra-curricular activities to keep the students on the fence from attending charter schools.
On the plus side for charter schools there is not the bureaucracy that the larger schools have in theie adminisration. You won’t have athletic directors plulling down over one hundred thousand dollars that big schools dole out for their minimum services. The schools that are best run financially are the middle to smaller schools, of course that is my point of view.
Lastly I am not sure what to do with students that are fleeing underperforming public schools to attend higher rated public schools.. Anderson and Elwood are just two under performing schools that come to mind. Is it right for one public school to siphon off students the same way (the money follows the student) charter schools are hurting .public schools..
I taught at two public high schools and we taught all of the things you mentioned. We did not teach history as you suggested, but it is an interesting idea.
Paul K Ogden says
So, Phil, so what about government grants and government backed loans being used to attend religious colleges and universities? How is that not a violation of separation of church and state but vouchers for K-12 is?
The low pay a charter school teachers earns could be a big reason scores are so low.I am sure it is hit and miss with good teachers.
Doug Masson says
That’s part of why you need a school “system.” The quality of a student’s education shouldn’t depend on a roll of the dice in terms of which particular teacher they end up with. Teachers aren’t widgets, so there is always going to be some variation, but a good system is going to have resources and a plan such that the teachers they hire will be able to implement the system and the system will serve the children well.
Paul K Ogden says
The Hinnenfeld article doesn’t mention charter schools. It is solely about vouchers.
I’ve seen studies that say student performance is better in charter schools than traditional public schools (TPS) and I’ve seen studies that say the opposite. After looking closely at the studies it appears that the ones that dissed charter schools were using the scores from students who had newly moved from TPS to charters which greatly lowered the supposed performance of charter schools. There is no question that students who move from TPS to charter schools do perform at a lower level than those from the TPS. But after a few years in charter schools, those students are outperforming their TPS peers.
Kipp Indianapolis College Prep Middle, Marion County
Highest Top 5 Teachers
Math Teacher $45,668.39
English Teacher $32,755.59
7th Grade Literacy Teacher $31,575.25
8th Grade Literacy Teacher $29,408.08
6th Grade Science Teacher $23,721.03
Interesting enough there are no religious schools
that post ANY information on the State of Indiana
Gateway Report Search. Yes I want my kids to go
a college prep school that pays one teacher a
nominal living wage.
Doug Masson says
Those are the *highest* paid teachers? That’s nuts.