The traditional public school SYSTEM has provided “choice” such as magnet schools, career/technical programming, diverse curricular offerings, etc., to students for decades. State policy restrictions and dismal state funding levels have hindered and limited the capacity of districts to accommodate “choice”. Expansion of “choice” could have been a “reform” exclusively within the SYSTEM had it not been for the privatization/market forces movement.
Some of the advocates for privatizing public education have been working for decades to dismantle the traditional SYSTEM. On November 25, 1991, at the request of Governor George Voinovich and newly appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction Ted Sanders, President George H. W. Bush ventured into Ohioto talk about education. During a speech at Veterans Memorial in Columbus, Bush advocated that Ohio provide a voucher for each student for use at any public or private school. A November 26, 1991 Cincinnati Enquirer article reported, “Even Governor George Voinovich quickly backed away from Bush’s unqualified endorsement of giving parents choice.”
Bill Bennett, formerU. S.Secretary of Education and one of the founders of the K-12 Inc. charter school company, a few years ago, stated on a nationally broadcast TV program that he could educate students online for less than $1,000. That company operatesOhioVirtualAcademy, which does a robust online business inOhio($58,918,395.82 this year).
If this “choice” movement continues to accelerate for the next decade, public boards of education will end up being financial conduits to educational entities over which they have no supervision.
The education “choice” programs inOhiowill costOhioschool districts nearly one billion dollars next school year. These “choice” venues are funded by tax dollars with very limited accountability. This is the sacrifice the public makes to the education god of “choice”.
As more tax dollars are drained from traditional public schools to “choice” venues, it will be increasingly difficult for them to improve educational opportunities for the students left in the SYSTEM.
Part IV coming soon…