Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Case for Urban School Vouchers

Urban public schools are failing tremendously. The causes: a lack of school competition, a greater percentage of kids with learning disabilities, and insufficient parental supervision. It cannot only be poverty, the fallacy we have been trained to accept, because developing countries have well educated kids. The reality is: urban youth take a look around, and realize that their success cannot be measured by their surroundings, in turn; they do whatever seems necessary to change those surroundings, as fast as possible.

Some sell drugs. To those that do, it leads to a quick fix. The goal: make enough money to move out of the ghetto. This –despite however lucrative the trade is– is by its very nature a rather dangerous career choice. No more dangerous than joining the military or becoming a police officer –because you are surrounded by elements of extreme risk– but dangerous none the less.

Fixing urban schools is not an easy task. Democrats are ardent supporters of the public school system. In suburban areas, where population density is less stagnant, this makes sense. But In Urban school districts, where teachers become outnumbered by the demands of their students, “it’s retarded,” to borrow a phrase from urban vernacular. Instead of trying to fix the public school system, which has met with little to remote success, Republicans focus on giving urban youth a decent education through school choice.

School choice programs offer learning opportunities in a better, and more stable environment; an environment that can foster student growth, enhance achievement, and produce outcomes that parents can be proud of. When Democrats fight against school choice and voucher programs they are inevitably saying to urban youth, we will pay for you to get a bad education to ensure that we get re-elected. Republicans say, a good education is better than gold. Voucher programs give students the ability to attend schools outside of bad neighborhoods at an affordable price.

The proponents of public schools would argue that public schools take all comers, and that non-public schools have the ability to be selective. Which makes sense! Students work that much harder to get into those schools, and it rewards parents who care most about their kid’s education. The upside for public schools, once school choice becomes widely accepted, is that the classrooms become more manageable, giving teachers more time, to work hands on with the students that are less proficient, and need extra attention.

Wikipedia had the following to say about Vouchers: “The oldest continuing school voucher programs existing today in the United States are the Town Tuitioning programs in Vermont and Maine, beginning in 1869.”

Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued for the modern concept of vouchers in the 1950s, stating that competition would improve schools and cost efficiency. In Maine, the geographic layout is such that, building public schools was not feasible. Instead they relied on the established parochial schools. Friedmans’s argument is the backbone of the conservative movement in favor of offering education choice to urban youth.

Looking at the data from the New Jersey Dept of Education we see Urban enrollment diminishing as children get older; when, however you look at suburban school district’s enrollment, it stays the same throughout. This is ample evidence that student retention is those areas are subpar. Some suburban areas actually enroll more students in 12th grade than they did in 1st and 2nd grade.

Wonder why Urban public schools don’t do so well? Well I do. I asked a few teachers, some from charter schools, others from public schools. Teacher pay was one of the biggest complaints. Individuals switched from public to charter schools for better pay, and because charter schools had a more responsive administration, responsive in terms of the needs of the pupils. How then are these public schools receiving, and asking for more money, while teacher pay stays the same. Complex as the question seems, the answer has to be in wastefull bureaucracy; hence the need for both smaller government, and legislated school choice programs. If non-public schools have the infrastructure and the willingness to help alleviate the problem of overcrowded schools, why then would anyone not support such a phenomenal concept? Why did it take a Republican Governor to shine the light on the need for innovative solutions to urban youth’s most basic need –a proper education.

The “Opportunity Scholarship Act”; which establishes a pilot program in the Department of Treasury, providing tax credits to entities contributing to scholarships for low-income children; met with “No” votes from the following Democrats: Sarlo, Paul A. , Buono, Barbara , Greenstein, Linda R. , Van Drew, Jeff , Cunningham, Sandra B.1 While the Bill was co-authored by a Democrat, it shows the empty promises that Democrats keep when their pockets are lined with the future of young kids.

The future of Urban youth is in their tenacity to succeed, some will make their way out of public schools, but more can make a decent life for themselves, and their families if Democrats would hurry up an accept the fact that Public schools are overcrowded, and that voucher programs can solve that problem.

Until then, we will be watching smaller and smaller classes of graduating seniors from our urban public schools, thanks to Democrats.


About the Author: Kerry Baynes was born on May 9, 1980. He currently attends Bloomfield College in New Jersey, his single residence for the past 15 years. As a research assistant for the New Jersey State Senate he was responsible for preparing research on: economic, budget/fiscal issues, and the impact of tax policy. He holds a degree in Business Management, and has 2 years of legislative policy experience.

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