Among the surprises at a panel Thursday morning of influential legislators on the House Education Committee was this statement from the grand dame of education reform and longtime House member, Atlanta Democrat Kathy Ashe:
“I would vote for a voucher bill if the receiving school is willing to give their students the assessments that students are required to take in public schools. If you agree to take the public dollars, you are going to have to take the tests.”
Now, Rep. Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta) may feel quite safe in making that statement – a departure from the Democratic position against vouchers — because she knows that private schools have resisted any attempt to impose state accountability testing on them. Most do not want to give the CRCT, which they feel puts them under the thumb of the state curriculum.
Seated to Ashe’s right at the panel was fellow Democrat Alisha Thomas Morgan of Austell, who also endorses choice and vouchers. Morgan agreed with Ashe that any private school that receives state dollars should administer state accountability tests.
“Your zip code determines where you go to school. All of us here in this room have choices. Many parents do not have that choice because they cannot afford it,” said Morgan.
As the lone Republican on the dais, state Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) was not to be left out of the choice rally. “The money needs to follow the child, ” he said.
I don’t know. I still argue that the money that underwrites my children’s public school education does not “belong” to me. I don’t pay nearly enough taxes to cover my children’s schooling. The money that pays for their teachers and their public schools represents the collective commitment of my community to public education.
I think that commitment is as important to our country as freedom of speech and religion.
What do you think?