School choice group: Dear President Obama, You attended private school. So do your children. Give other black children that chance

A black school choice group notes that the Obamas chose private school, yet the president does not support vouchers.

A black school choice group notes that the Obamas chose private school, yet the president does not support vouchers.

Check out today’s ad in The New York Times by the civil rights leader Kevin P. Chavous, chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, condemning President Obama for his failure to support school choice nationwide. (The alliance advocates for vouchers and is supported by several pro school choice foundations, including the Walton Family Foundation.)

Chavous asks President Obama to endorse school vouchers, saying that the president himself  attended the most elite school in Hawaii because of scholarships.

At the risk of being pilloried, I have to point out that the evidence is not strong that vouchers have dramatically improved the educational outcomes for black children or any children. I think the models that we ought to be replicating are KIPP and other public programs that emphasize intense remediation, more time on task and a relentless focus on achievement. I think vouchers will help the kids who need it the least — middle-class children for whom the $4,000 or $6,000 voucher means their parents can send them to a $10,000 private school.

At the same time, I think parents want more choices, which is why we ought to rethink district lines and school zones. And I think public schools ought to be experimenting with all sorts of models, so a parent can look at the options and see k-8 schools, single-gender, year-round, virtual etc.

Here is the text of the full-page ad:

Dear Mr. President:

One of the reasons I supported you, as did virtually all of the Black community in this country, is because we believed that you would stand up to vested interests and do the right thing even if it was not politically expedient. You have now left us confused and dismayed.

We simply cannot reconcile what you are saying about education reform with what you are actually doing to give parents the opportunity to choose the best schools for their children.

Last year, you refused to support the reauthorization of the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program. As you know, this program allows low-income parents to receive government-funded scholarships so their children can attend private schools of their choice. This initiative has been an educational lifeline to thousands of children.

You acted to eliminate hope for thousands of low-income children who live just blocks from the White House, despite compelling data that confirms these children are receiving a better education than they would receive in the D.C. public schools.

While opposing this program would appear to be a contradiction to what you said on the Today show earlier this week, some might call it the height of hypocrisy. As a beneficiary of a privately funded  scholarship, you attended the most elite private school in Hawaii. You and Mrs. Obama have also chosen a private school for your own children. Because there is not enough money to provide private scholarships to all low-income families, you more than anyone should be an advocate for government-funded opportunity scholarships nationwide.

Far too many of our children are confined in schools that continue to fail, year after year. As Dr. Martin Luther King said during the civil rights movement, we need to act with the fierce urgency of now. Our children cannot wait. Opportunity scholarships help educate kids today.

So, Mr. President, there is still time for you to throw off the shackles of the educational establishment and join our ranks. There are over one million empty urban private school seats in this country that are waiting to be filled if low-income families had government-funded scholarships. If you would like to learn more about our work at the Black Alliance for Educational Options or would like to meet some of the families who would like to participate in these programs, I would be happy to introduce them to you.
Please, Mr. President, let’s educate our children by any means necessary.

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[...] School choice group: Dear President Obama, You attended private school. So do …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Chavous asks President Obama to endorse school vouchers, saying that the president himself attended the most elite school in Hawaii because of scholarships. …Leader of Black Alliance Blasts President Obama on Parental ChoicePR Newswire (press release)all 13 news articles » [...]

Dr. John Trotter

October 2nd, 2010
2:26 pm

Maureen: Diane Ravitch’s take on these foundations’ motives and so forth is quite interesting. I think that the Waltons, Bill Gates, the Broad Foundation, and others mistakenly think that if they can run businesses, then they can apply the same principles to public education. They are still thinking that school children are comparable to Twinkies floating down a conveyor belt. If Teacher A can fill up 20 Twinkie boxes in one hour, and Teacher B can only fill up 15 Twinkie boxes in an hour, then Teacher A should get paid more than Teacher B — regardless if Teacher B’s Twinkies were coming down the conveyor belt all beat up and smashed. Some were even jumping off the conveyor belt!

Back to College Football!

lionel

October 2nd, 2010
2:46 pm

I agree that a voucher program won’t really help the poor. It will simply be used as a way to further separate the haves and have-nots. Unless there is a means test and full scholarship (and maybe free transportation), those who are poor still won’t be able to attend their choice schools.

Former Middle School Teacher

October 2nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Private will not take all children even if they can pay.

high school teacher

October 2nd, 2010
3:02 pm

Only black children deserve that chance? Really? What about my white children?

Teacher

October 2nd, 2010
3:17 pm

You will not find a quality private school for 10K!

Ken

October 2nd, 2010
3:23 pm

Maureen,
Your observations and recommendations are on the mark. But substantial change is unlikely unless/until community and parental pressure demands accurate information from the school system. In short, parents are intentionally misinformed of the quality of the local school; it’s in the best career-advancement interests of administrators to paint an unjustifiably rosy scenario.

I’ll give you two of several hundred examples from the high school in which I taught. Not ancient examples, both generate since the implementation of NCLB; a law designed to improve transparency.

(1) The high school was awarded “Georgia School of Excellence” the same year that the graduation rate for its two largest demographic groups was less than 50%. [By the district's own suspect statistics.] Clearly there was a disconnect between the much publicized award (ardently sought by administrators) and the reality of student success.
(2) In an attempt to soft-pedal a dip in the high school’s SAT scores this year, the superintendent speculated that “more high achieving students could be taking the ACT, instead of the SAT.” Most anything “could” be true, but the superintendent’s public explanation takes the heat off while avoiding a fair and accurate representation of student performance.

The major award and superintendent’s utterance are exemplary of a continuing day-to-day pattern of misrepresentations both big and small that dampen any motivation for change. Accountability won’t have any teeth in school reform as long as data can be misrepresented or ignored.

Until the pattern of misrepresentation is trumped w/ accuracy, all your good suggestions will fall on deaf ears. Why change a single brush stroke when the picture is critically acclaimed?

[Incidentally, since the disconnect between the awarding of "School of Excellence" and graduation rates came to light, all administrators moved up the administrative chain of success to better-paying jobs.]

Burroughston Broch

October 2nd, 2010
3:41 pm

The Washington mantra is, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say do.”

If the President were to take this suggestion, he would openly acknowledge the failure of the public schools. He would then lose the support of the teacher’s unions, one of the few remaining strongholds of the Democratic Party. This he will not do.

ChristieS.

October 2nd, 2010
4:32 pm

Lionel, exactly. School vouchers for private schools won’t help poor children or even lower-middle class children, regardless of ethnicity, unless they are full-ride scholarships. And as private schools tend to be in the business as a profit-driven vehicle, how many full scholarships does anyone think these schools will provide?

high school teacher

October 2nd, 2010
4:58 pm

Do you think that private schools are really that much better than public schools, or are the families of private school students generally more involved than those of public school students? I could use the same English curriculum in my public school, but I would have a high failure rate; most private schools have an extensive reading list, and my students whine about the the reading that I require of them.

Another Mom

October 2nd, 2010
5:00 pm

Does anyone remember the M to M program? Where you could transfer from a school if you were in the racial majority to a school where you were in the racial minority. That was a form of school choice. I attended Riverwood High School. When the minorities started transferring to Riverwood from the south side of Fulton, the neighborhood kids were pulled out and sent to private schools. Don’t you’ll think the same kind of thing would happen with other forms of “school choice?”

Cere

October 2nd, 2010
6:30 pm

I’ve been saying for a while, it’s shocking to see how Obama has taken George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and put it on steroids! Obama now has states COMPETING for funding to educate our children. States also have to spend countless millions on testing and evaluating whether or not they made “adequate progress”. The whole thing has morphed into yet another bloated bureaucracy, IMO. The ONLY thing they aren’t spending money on is actual, direct instruction and support in the classroom.

If Georgia had real moxie, we would say “thanks, but no thanks” to those federal dollars with their hundreds of strings attached. Heck – we’re at the bottom of the barrel – why not do something radical instead of following the feds off the cliff like lemmings?

Maureen Downey

October 2nd, 2010
7:15 pm

@Teacher, I used that figure as it is an average as parochial and Christian schools are typically less than the Westministers and Lovetts of the world.
But it is certainly true that the best privates in metro Atlanta are more like $17,000 a year now.
Maureen

teacher&mom

October 2nd, 2010
7:43 pm

“And I think public schools ought to be experimenting with all sorts of models, so a parent can look at the options and see k-8 schools, single-gender, year-round, virtual etc.”

Maureen, I agree that this would be a great idea but until Congress is willing to let go of the NCLB mandates, this isn’t going to happen. Even if the school is a great model, NCLB will hinder, not help, their progress. I also don’t see how a rural district could offer different options.

@cere- Before the election, I did not think federal educational policy could get any worse. Well, I was wrong. When President Obama selected Arne Duncan, I knew we were in trouble. I did some research to see how much federal money GA gets from the feds. I was shocked. I posted a link to the documents on this blog a few months ago. We are in the top 5 states that receive the most federal money. I think this reliance on federal funds has perpetuated an “educational welfare system” at the state legislative level. Why should the legislature bother to look into a better, stronger means of funding education in GA if we have federal funds? The result of getting the “federal checks” has lead to a laziness and complacency that permeates the gold dome. Instead of trying to figure out how to better fund education at the state level, they rely on more and more federal dollars. We are at the feds mercy…whether we like it or not.

I have looked at the Sidwell School’s web site. They offer an amazing curriculum. I can understand why parents would want the same for their own children. I also believe that if vouchers were in place, schools like Sidwell would just raise the tuition to a point that once again entrance to their school would be impossible for many.

I thought Monty Neill wrote a great post this week for the Washington Post. Here’s a portion of what he wrote:
“The choice, however, was never between do nothing or focus on high-stakes testing. Better options have always existed. But these have been under-financed, not supported by the most visible and wealthy sectors in society. They also are more complex, not simplistic like tests, making them harder to sell with sound bites – as if the mind and learning were simple!

Testing is a cheap “fix.” Genuinely improving schools and teaching, and overcoming the poverty and segregation that are still the most significant factors in student outcomes, are expensive, complex and politically difficult. Too many members of Congress – and their state counterparts – are willing to accept the cheap way out, even if it is no solution at all.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/why-wont-congress-admit-nclb-f.html

dcb

October 2nd, 2010
7:51 pm

Come on everyone. Obama is the ultimate politician. And whether or not the issue makes sense or not, his position will be that of the politician – as determined by the polls and all the other extraneous factors (donors, blue vs. red states, etc.) that his advisers use. So the fact he attended a private school has nothing to do with his position on vouchers. He’s for the “common” guy – they have the most votes. The common guy is not for anything that smells of benefiting the rich. Whether the rich are there because they are hard working, risk-taking individuals or not. Obama is going to go the way that his advisers feel will win him the most favor and, ultimately, votes. His position not supporting vouchers is no surprise – it is a no-brainer.

tim

October 2nd, 2010
7:53 pm

Mr Chavous….you are a racist.

American Patrioit

October 2nd, 2010
8:16 pm

Mr. Chavous’s comparison is spurious at best, utterly dishonest at worst. President Obama attended a private school growing up overseas – comparing that situation to the current American education system is ridiculous.

Also, the President’s kid attend a private school because of the myriad security concerns surrounding them. They’re there because it’s easier for the secret service.

td

October 2nd, 2010
8:20 pm

Why don’t we stop trying all the new fads every two or so years and get back to teaching the basics (especially in Elementary and middle)? You add that with more discipline (holding parents accountable for their kids actions) and I can guarantee improvement. The problem is we have to have some politicians stand up and take action.

Disillusioned Parent; But less hopeful

October 2nd, 2010
8:43 pm

@AnotherMom When you attended Riverwood High School, it was not a conversion charter school and I doubt it was an IB school as it is now.
It’s unfortunate that those parents pulled their kids from a public school because the darker skinned kids from South of town were given an option of a better education. I bet those tuition paying kids at Riverwood have to to behave, have good attendance and not cause any discipline problems or they are asked to leave. Too bad the same thing does not apply to NCLB transfers. If a kid has an opportunity at a so called better school, then there should be consequences for that priveledge if they are out of line. That’s just my opinion.

Having school choice is what Capitalism is all about, healthy competition. If you don’t cut the mustard, then there should be some type of school wide reform. That could be reconstitution, convert to a charter operated by an EMO with a good track record.

I agree with Maureen. If there is room in a school such as Riverwood Charter IB High School, allow other kids to attend and have the full education dollars follow the child! That will force North Atlanta to raise the bar and to keep it consistently high. Maybe that is why APS sued. Competition is too close to home. APS better hurry up and build that state of the art $45 million dollar new IB high school for Buckhead.

Disillusioned Parent; But less hopeful

October 2nd, 2010
8:51 pm

@AnotherMom My comments about Riverwood still stand, but I was writing int the context of Maureen’s previous post “An empty house and broken dreams: APS parents move to the suburbs in search of better schools” It’s time to get off the computer and go enjoy life. Hope more of you do the same.

GaDawg

October 2nd, 2010
8:58 pm

Until parents have to make an investment then nothing will be important, supported and respected. Just another entitlement program that keeps people on the dole.

atlmom

October 2nd, 2010
9:00 pm

There are several very large problems with education these days.

1) The feds should not be micromanaging schools. Yeah, it would be great if there were some kind of standard from the federal government, but in 30/40 years of the dept of education, they haven’t really done anything. Why are they there? Our education system has only gotten worse. But NCLB is an utter failure. The feds should not have their hands so deeply into any local school. It’s kind of absurd.

2) It used to be if you were a disruption, so much so that the teacher couldn’t teach, then you were pulled out of school – and there were schools that you could go to. Students are aware that they are in class, forever, and that they have the authority, not the school. So the kid knows it doesn’t really matter what they do, they can’t be kicked out…so the kids who are there to learn, well, they don’t get to.

3) Whatever we’ve been doing the last 40/50 years ISN’T WORKING. It’s awful. We need something really new and radical. Having a top down approach is really not working. Why doesn’t anyone actually ask the teachers what to do and how to do it? Why are administrators and bureaucrats trying to create an answer? It doesn’t make sense.

4) Parents don’t take responsibility for their kids as much anymore. Parents actually fight with the school systems, they will defend their kid, even if the kid was wrong. How does a kid learn that they have to listen to authority when the parents don’t show them they have to?

http://willisforstatesuper.webs.com/

atlmom

October 2nd, 2010
9:02 pm

Seriously…we don’t need testing – and certainly not to the extent we have it now. Wow…we are pretty much well aware of the good schools and the not as good schools. Ask the parents, look at the property taxes/housing values. Seriously, we all *know* where the good schools are.

Why are we forcing parents to put their kids in schools that are awful? Year after year? I mean, *I* have school choice, if I wanted to move to a better school district, if I wanted to send my kids to private school. Not everyone has this choice – we need to do MUCH better.

atlmom

October 2nd, 2010
9:04 pm

NCLB is just awful legislation… and seriously – how can a school ALWAYS achieve ‘adequate yearly progress’? Really? If I’m at ‘99%’ passed, how much better can I do? What if I’m at 100%? Can I even get better? um, perhaps congress needs to go back to school to study math a little teeny bit.

Edugator

October 2nd, 2010
9:06 pm

It’s a mad world. Forget vouchers, forget massive school choice. We had the correct model back in 1950- except for the nonsense of segregation. Go to school in the neighborhood, and adapt the local school to the needs of the population. Vouchers won’t aid truly poor kids or mediocre students to get into private schools. Put more teachers into the public classrooms and get some real work done.

Lee

October 2nd, 2010
9:10 pm

So, the BLACK Alliance for Education Options wants scholarships for low income DC students [ie, black students] and are mad because they thought the mulatto in the White House was going to hand them a signed, blank check.

Oh yeah, don’t expect the politically correct AJC to call them on being a racist organization….

56 years ago, the blacks said if they would just let them attend school with whites, they would magically transform into academic scholars. Now, they say if they would just give them a wheelbarrow full of money so they could attend school with the private school whites, they would magically transform into academic scholars.

What a conumdrum. Apparently, the only way blacks can succeed academically is to get them away from themselves.

Disillusioned Parent; But hopeful

October 2nd, 2010
9:22 pm

@Lee and many others with the same viewpoint. PLEEEZ do us all a favor and visit any KIPP school in Atlanta. There is no magic, it’s all hard work with dedicated teachers and staff. http://www.kippmetroatlanta.org/

Disillusioned Parent; But hopeful

October 2nd, 2010
9:24 pm

Even Beverly Hall supports the KIPP Charter Schools.

“KIPP’s success in Atlanta demonstrates that the rigorous KIPP model of creating a culture of high expectations and requiring longer hours is working for Atlanta students.”

Beverly L. Hall, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Atlanta Public Schools

ScienceTeacher671

October 2nd, 2010
9:59 pm

@American Patrioit [sic]: “Also, the President’s kid attend a private school because of the myriad security concerns surrounding them. They’re there because it’s easier for the secret service.”

Actually, the Obama children have always attended private schools, even in Chicogo before Obama was nationally known.

high school teacher

October 2nd, 2010
10:02 pm

Don’t the KIPP schools have the authority to kick kids out? just sayin’…

Why are schools considered good schools? I pose that the teachers aren’t the difference; rather, it’s the atmosphere that is created within the community and the students.

EducationCEO

October 2nd, 2010
10:11 pm

Yes Hall supports KIPP because so too do Gates, Walton, etc. Newsflash: KIPP schools are not the only charter school s that provide better educational opportunities. Bigger Newsflash: Research Henry Levin & Accelerated Schools. Now packaged as KIPP. Exact same model.

Mr Charlie

October 2nd, 2010
10:15 pm

Obama is catering to the teachers union, he already has the black vote locked up….Dems been doing it for years.

Mr Charlie

October 2nd, 2010
10:16 pm

India and China are doing a better job of educating thier kids than we are at a fraction of the cost. Why?

PappyHappy

October 2nd, 2010
10:51 pm

Maureen, you are talking to a guy who permits his own brother to live in a shack in Kenya (without any assistance from Obama’s pocket); and a former illegal immigrant Aunt who now lives on welfare in Boston! Why do you think he is going to be concerned for others — especially if he might disturb some folks in the teacher’s union??

FATLEGS

October 2nd, 2010
11:21 pm

Why should only BLACK POOR children get to enjoy the benefits of free PRIVATE schools of THEIR choice? I hate this stupid PC, alternative action attempt of a f-king president. I am WHITE. I PAY taxes. I WORK. I don’t have KIDS by CHOICE. BUT.. I have to admit that I am all for his initiative to thwart the BLACK community’s attempt at another free ride. FOR ONCE… you go OBAMA!

td

October 2nd, 2010
11:44 pm

Mr Charlie

October 2nd, 2010
10:16 pm
India and China are doing a better job of educating their kids than we are at a fraction of the cost. Why?

I have several Indian friends and they tell me that you either do the right thing in the classroom or you get beat, first by the teacher and then by your parent. They tell me they get into trouble for the smallest infraction (shirt not tucked in, or not doing homework) and then the parent is shamed. What is the old saying “spare the rod spoil the child”.

I think the main reason is because education and educators are respected in those countries and we want to blame them in this country and not make our children do what is right.

FATLEGS

October 2nd, 2010
11:45 pm

That, td… should translate over to the UGA locker room… whatever works my dear friend.. because we suck!

UGA fan for life!

atlmom

October 3rd, 2010
12:00 am

We have a totally different culture than almost any other country. India/china/whoever you compare us too – they are almost totally 100% homogeneous (and, like another person said: they have respect for elders/teachers/other human beings, we seem to have lost that here).

So, well, ya know – we are over 300 million people, and well, we are incredibly heterogeneous. So different in different places. What works in Atlanta, GA may not even work in another similarly sized city – because the culture is different. What works in rural arkansas is hardly going to work in Boston, say. We clearly need to not have one answer to all these issues – but yet, again, we seem to think that bureaucrats in DC have all the answers…

GHunt

October 3rd, 2010
1:45 am

I had the experience of serving on the Governor’s Education Review Commission of 1983-84, which drafted the Orginial Quality Basic Education (QBE) legislation. We determined that the most accurate prediction of academic success was the income level of the parents. Generally speakintg, higher household incomes are the best barometers for measuring student achievement.
The correlation between household incomes and student achievement in the classroom was clearly established.
Vochers for students to attend private schools would only serve to supplant public funding and further erode our free and universal educational system.
Private schools can reject or refuse the admission of any student. Public schools must accept all students regardless of their mental, emotional, physical condition or ampitude until their 16th birthday. Will private schools accept the $5000 per student voucher as full payment for one full school year? Will they provide free transportation? Will free and reduced lunch prices be available? On the social level, as their more wealthy classmates drive their BMWs, Lexus, Mercedes etc. to school will the voucher students fit in? What happens to the voucher student when he or she is dismissed from school? I believe they will be returned to the public schools, however will the voucher funds remain at the private school or will they be returned to the public system?
Think about all aspects of public monies going to private schools. Could this be an oxymoron?

Kwanza

October 3rd, 2010
3:23 am

@Mr. Charlie: Because there is a culture of education.
Thank you

Kwanza

October 3rd, 2010
5:26 am

@GHunt How do we debunk the myth that higher household incomes determine student achievement? Could there instead be a Z variable? I don’t buy it, not even from the halls of Harvard. If that’s the case, then why do so many immigrant families turn this notion on its head by achieving so much with so little? I mean, it’s undeniable that money is needed (hundreds of thousands WILL pass hands in the name of each kid somehow), but I think the motive for getting the money, that is the ambition to better one’s self through education is the determining factor. The parents must have this ambition and then convey that to their children, and I mean truly reach the hearts of their kids to inspire a love of learning and appreciation for this wonderful opportunity to make something of themselves. Case in point: I grew up poor. I went to APS schools, did my best (and I mean really gave it all I had, despite being untreated for ADD lol) and wound up at Wellesley (and it turns out that I actually deserved to be there, and it wasn’t some quota at work!). My cousins, the children of millionaires, spent all or most of their time at Woodward and ended up at Auburn and Ga State (not bad schools…but i wonder, did they really have to go through all those years of Woodward to gain entrance?)….They had tutors, books, and many other educational instruments that I didn’t have. I only had a love of learning and a library card that was burnt from so much scanning. This was in part inspired by my father who would wake me up out of my deep slumber at 11pm and make me sit up late at the kitchen table to read for at least an hour. Maybe it just happened like that…or maybe the key factor is not money…but rather priorities, values, and a “high stakes” paradigm.

We need better values, parental accountability and a general education-culture revolution. Where are the student red guards burning the crap music, gold chains, rims, at bonfires? OK I know you think I’ve gone off my rocker, but I’m thinking the times call for those kind of drastic measures. Maybe America need’s its own cultural revolution. The people in the communities have to make up in their minds that this is the thing to do. No one can truly make the decision for them, as everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah will have you believe. There is a pseudo cultural revolution taking place now, but the real thing is a bit more draconian with zero-tolerance for failure. Where are the rallies? The speeches by our community leaders every Saturday mornings? Where is the sense of grass roots urgency…the kind that is felt even in individual homes, affecting they way things are run in these most basic economic, social, and political units of America? Down with the education establishment!!! Let’s get off this virtual forum, and declare a real education-culture revolution!

As for Obama, he is first and foremost a community organizer. If he can be true to these roots, then let’s give the man a chance for a fruitful harvest…Please remember, people, that RTTT is not the only edu policy directive coming from the O administration. What about Obama’s Promised Neighborhoods which seek to replicate HCZ’s success? Anyone dare to talk about that? I do admit that RTTT is not all that brilliant, but at least Obama is making sure to support holistic approaches to solving the core issues of lagging student achievement. http://toped.svefoundation.org/2010/09/22/3-groups-get-promise-neighborhood-grants/

Tony

October 3rd, 2010
6:29 am

KIPP schools are certainly NOT a model to follow if we are to transform all schools. More on that in a moment. First, let’s address the topic.

The premises underlying vouchers are faulty for many reasons. Vouchers do little to get all students access to better schools. The so-called better schools do not have room for endless enrollments and most of these schools are not duplicable in a way that would dramatically increase access. Vouchers DO take money away from already established and well performing schools. The theory that “the money should follow the child” is pretty much in place with FTE funding for public schools. What astounds me about some of the logic being applied to the push for vouchers is that there will be some sort of magical outcome for children who receive the funds.

What is at the heart of the problem for these schools that are so bad is a community problem. VOUCHERS WILL NOT FIX THAT. When students come to school with no intent to learn, that is more a reflection of the community than the school. Vouchers, school/teacher accountability, and all the other popular measures proposed by politicians and businessmen will not fix this underlying problem. Vouchers will, however, take funding that is desparately needed and move it away from the children attending ALL public schools. The voucher funding will be taken off the top and the net effect will be that all students lose.

Now about KIPP schools. KIPP schools do have a sharp focus on student achievement. However, they are very selective when it comes to taking students. What completion data are available for KIPP schools shows huge attrition rates. Often students are placed in grade levels well below what their actual age would indicate. Public schools have restrictions that prevent them from using strategies like these. KIPP schools have been shown to “counsel” students/parents away from KIPP schools back to mainstream public schools. KIPP schools DO NOT typically reach all students in a community. Rather, they take in students who apply for their program. This selectivity creates strong bias in any achievement results they may claim. Since they do not serve all students in an area, any comparisons between KIPP schools and mainstream public schools are invalid.

Last but not least, I am so tired of the special interest groups demanding that the government provide somthing special for them. This article tells the story of another group wanting the government to take care of them. They have the answer to their concerns about education within their own control and they do not need the government to intervene. Americans’ dependence of the government to take care of everything is getting out of control. Education and learning opportunities are at the fingertips of every American child. Once every family takes responsibility and when communities band together to EXPECT higher performance, then the students will reach higher levels.

Yes, there are schools that are underperforming. But in each case, if you take an honest look at the details, you will find how the community surrounding that school does not provide the external support through values and expecations that are a vital component for success. This is what is creating the impetus for families wanting to be rescued through vouchers and it is sad for the families who are stuck in the conditions. Sadder still is the fact that the schools are blamed for the poor conditions of the community. Kwanza and others hit these points quite well.

Let me also add a word about China and India – neither of these countries come close to educating all students. While they have made attempts to do reach more students, there are still millions of kids that don’t even attend school. Neither country participates in international testing programs, so there are no comparative data available. So to Mr. Charlie and others who make claims about “how China and India do it” as being better are ill-informed.

Hmmm....

October 3rd, 2010
7:24 am

Tony has hit the nail on the head! It is the CULTURE that has the greatest influence on how a student achieves. Look at our society as a whole. Look at what is on television and in movies and in music. Look at the number of unmarried, young mothers having babies with little support from the fathers. Look at a growing number of folks who believe GOVERNMENT is the answer to how the succeed! We have become a nation that demands an immediate fix from SOMEONE ELSE. It is never us as families LOOKING INWARD, trying to figure out what families can do.
Why do some immigrant groups succeed? It is because it is expected in their culture. Sure, there are some schools and teachers that need to improve, but honestly, our CULTURE is the underlying problem in the education conundrum.

Painful Rectal Itch

October 3rd, 2010
7:28 am

WE don’t need vouchers. We need to get rid of tenure clause that allows incompetent teachers to remain employed. In the game of poker, its called pass the trash. In real life its called the DeKalb County School System. Also, I think teachers should be required to get re-certified every 3-5 years by an independent organization. That would put some “checks and balances” in place which DeKalb County sorely misses with its MyBabyDaddy administration. There, I said it!!!!

Coach

October 3rd, 2010
7:58 am

“I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” Booker Tallaferro Washington

Revolution Member

October 3rd, 2010
8:03 am

People, please read the content of the Mr. Chavous’ letter again. I understand that vouchers are a controversial topic, however the issues he has laid out are very valid. How can the President, who I strongly support, go on national television an admit that the D.C. Public schools are a failure and are not acceptable for his family yet allow other families to attend them. The U.S. Department of Education under President Obama issued are report showing tremendous gain for students in the D.C. Voucher program over their peers in public schools.

If the President and his administration know the D.C. Public aren’t working and they have evidence vouchers are working, why would he kills the voucher program. Sure Union’s may be at the center of it, but he’s already shown courage to go against the unions.

Let’s please decide to fight for our children. Please visit http://www.revolutionineducation.org for more information and join in.

the Giver

October 3rd, 2010
8:33 am

Principle

October 3rd, 2010
8:34 am

Obama has sold his political soul to the unions. Liberal democrat ideology precludes the possiblity of doing anyting for schools but thowing ever increasing amounts of money at a failed system. The idea of parental choice, or meaningful change is simply off the table as long as the progressives are in charge.

MiltonMan

October 3rd, 2010
8:43 am

Good God teachers are in melt down mode here. Both of my children go to private school & have done much better than their public school counterparts. Private schools do not have to deal with unruly kids, dope heads, etc. The school has thrown out two of these punks already & where did they go – public school.

MiltonMan

October 3rd, 2010
8:44 am

Teachers – blaming everyone else except themselves for the issues. There was another teacher thrown in jail the other day for having sex with his student.