The Case for Vouchers Part 1; Competition and White Flight

We are using several posts over the next week or two to respond to Give2Attain’s post where he supports “competition” but opposes a voucher system.

First, we want to compliment Give2Attain for his thoughtful post and we enjoy our general discussions with him.  His blog and links are very good and helpful.  Unlike most people who oppose vouchers, Give doesn’t demagogue the issue and points out the good that would come from a voucher system and the reasons for his skepticism .  We want to take issue with the reasons for his opposition in a series of several posts (this is too long for one post).  Here we are going to speak about competition and so-called “white flight.”

Here is a passage from Give’s post;

Now Open Enrollment, Intradistrict Transfer, Charter Schools, Private Schools, Families Moving, etc already promote white/affluent flight and people deserting their communities instead of fighting for them… Do we really want to make it easier and promote it? Do we want to promote separation. instead of community building through our schools?

Now why do we assume that if a family that is white CHOOSES to go to a charter school or another district (Hopkins, Osseo, Wayzata etc.) that race is the reason?  Why are they always accused of “abandoning their “community?”  If a family leaves Minneapolis and comes to Robbinsdale how come they aren’t accused of “abandoning their community?”  Does the Choice Is Your Program promote “flight?”  We would suggest that there are plenty of reasons why families have left the district over the years such as school closings, poor management of Stan Mack, poor communication, poor performance, program cuts, more school options, etc.  Also we think schools should concentrate on reading, writing, math, and science not promoting the left wing agenda of so-called tolerance, diversity, and community building (whatever that is).

In addition, what about families who choose to go Sacred Heart, or St. Raphael’s or the FAIR school (All in Crystal and Robbinsdale)?  I don’t think anyone can accuse them of “abandoning their community.”  And the tuition at St. Raphael’s is $3120 compared to almost $11,000 we spend per kid in the public school so which is the better deal?  How about kids who are home schooled?  Isn’t a parent one on one with their kid (talk about class size reductions) an ideal setting (at least most of the time)?  The funny thing is that a home schooled kid costs us taxpayers nothing while in the public schools we can’t spend enough!  It must be poverty!

Of course, going to a religious school, home schooling, and charters, aren’t always an option for everyone but that by itself is unfair.  Some kids get opportunity but others don’t’?  We think vouchers can help level the playing field.  If everyone has a voucher to use as they wish, we think that will encourage people to look at their options.  Maybe if people have a voucher, private schools will pop up in our area.  Who knows?

Give2Attain seems to approve of charter schools, open enrollment, and intra-district transfers yet he opposes a voucher system.  So in other words, competition is OK as long as the “public” provides it.  If competition is a good thing, why then should we “limit who can compete?”  Give seems to think that the public school system can be “tweaked” or “fine-tuned” but we think we’ve spent the past 50 years trying to do just that.  Where is the evidence we’re getting anywhere?  Public school apologists just offer the same old lame brain solutions; more money, lower class size, more programs….blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the bottom line; what is more important…..where kids goes to school or whether or not kids get the opportunity to get a great education?  The fact that WHERE a kid goes to school is SO important tells us that getting a great education is secondary.  It makes no sense at all.

5 Responses to “The Case for Vouchers Part 1; Competition and White Flight”

  1. give2attain Says:

    Clarification: Flight is Flight.

    I used White Flight purely because people are sensitive to it and familiar with the concept. (ie “an attention grabbing headline”) If you leave your community to attain services that are available locally, instead of working to support and improve those local services. You are for better or worse putting your needs before those of your community. (ie driving past your local hardware store on your way to Home Depot, driving past your Public School on your way to the “Other” school, etc) It really does not matter what your race is or which community you are leaving. I am not judging, I do this in certain ways.

    I do agree that people have left for many reasons, and Vouchers would have simplified that Flight for even more families. (ie remember: Flight is the opposite of Fighting to prevent bad or promote good changes in your community… Like the things you mentioned…) And yes the Choice is Yours Program does promote Flight or Equality… I suppose it is a matter of semantics. (ie Right or Left wing) If these people care that their kids get a good education and they send them out of N Mpls, it is a loss to N Mpls.

    As for the small Privates that were mentioned, comparing them to Publics is like comparing grapes to watermelons. They have almost no special ed, the Church supports them, they kick out troubled kids, minimal transportation costs, the curriculum is very limited, etc. They are good, but very very different. From what I have heard, maintaining enrollment is difficult for them also. The people that had left them said they were just too small and did not offer enough…

    On the other hand… Home schooling is very expensive since one household income is minimized or lost. These Parents truly put their kid’s needs first, or they are serious about brain washing the kids. (ie you will only know what I allow you to learn…)

    It seems to me that these Privates can set up a Charter whenever they want. Then they will get all that big money… Not sure why they don’t, several others have within the RAS community. (ie different nationalities)

    Now are these cases of FLIGHT:
    – Northport kids that attend RSIS?
    – Forest Kids that attend ZLE?
    – Meadow Lake kids hat ad Sacred Heart?

    I suppose it depends on how you define “their community” and what their intent was?
    – If the kids really want to learn Spanish, then they a running to RSIS and not running from Northport. (ie not flight)
    – The Forest kids did stay in the RAS community, but left the Forest / Crystal / New Hope community. (????)
    – The Meadow Lake family is strongly religious. Again running to the Religious school… (not flight)

    Very confusing, yet the demographics keep shifting year after year…

    An interesting question: Is a Charter really a “Public school”?

    RAS certainly sees them as a threat to their very existence and will do anything within their power to keep a mainstream Charter out of their boundaries. Why specifically do you see them as just tweaking? By the RAS response, it looks like major surgery…

    What do you see Privates paid for with vouchers doing that Charters can not?

  2. give2attain Says:

    Sorry for the typos… I think I am going back to a wired keyboard…

  3. give2attain Says:

    Could you do one more thing to help me understand your vision of Vouchers better:
    – Are they cash or tokens?
    – About how much will they be for? (ie $)
    – Who gets to keep the extra cash, if there is some?
    – Do they vary dependent on Child’s need or are they fixed value?
    – If variable, how would this work?
    – If not, who gets the expensive kids?
    – Do schools get to “cherry pick”?
    – etc.


  4. 281 Exposed Says:

    We are planning to do 3 or 4 posts on vouchers so some of your questions will be answered in depth but we’ll give you quick answers here.

    1) no they should not be cash it should be for education only, this is not free money.

    2) perhaps $6000 or $7000

    3) good question, we will have to think about that one…perhaps use it to maintain a fund balance

    4) They should depend to a certain extent ie. ELL and special ed should get more since they cost more to teach. However, we’d like to see special ed put under a microscope. We don’t buy that one out of eight kids have some disease or disorder so we think the guidelines need to be worked on, but YES it should vary. Also there are different degrees of special ed so perhaps that number shouldn’t be flat either.

    5) Perhaps each school will need to keep a certain amount of “slots” open for special ed and ELL, say 10% to 20%. Obviously it depends on some factors. I would guess there are more ELL students in Minneapolis than International Falls. Only if these slots don’t fill can others come in. This would go a long way to prevent cherry picking.

    We think that voucher supporters need to be flexible so we are open to variations.

  5. give2attain Says:

    Regarding number 4 & 5. Currently the Private Schools are allowed to discontinue teaching students that they feel are too difficult/expensive. (ie expelled) Or they create acceptance criteria that prevent some kids from enrolling in the first place.

    I guess if I was running a Private business and wanted to ensure I succeeded, I would test / interview the child and Parent(s) thoroughly. Then determine a price for teaching that particular child. (based on current level and future capacity) Then if that particular child’s voucher was not adequate, the parent(s) or donors would need to pickup the difference. And if the child and Parent(s) did not live up to a pre-arranged contract of responsibilities, I would need to expel them to ensure they did not drag down the reputation of my business. Seems reasonable…

    So the questions to be answered at some point in time are:
    – Do the Privates get to pick and choose good children and Parent(s) that are dedicated to learning?
    – If so, where do the troubled kid’s, those with “inadequate vouchers”, and those with poor Parents go to school?
    – How will the “Public” set the voucher amount for the child? (ie maybe, take bids?) Who will do or oversee this?

    Thanks for the answers. I will be anxiously awaiting future installments !!!

    As for two interesting related links:
    Lose Students and 100% Going to College
    Every Sr College Bound

    Is this a successful model school or one that is good at managing their output, student body and the Spin… I bet RAS wishes at times that the bottom 1/3 of their students moved to another school. Their academic results would be INCREDIBLE !!! Instead they happily keep playing the cards they have been dealt.

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