“Quit trying to cannibalize public schools bit by bit”

Strong piece in the Gwinnett Daily Post by columnist Dick Yarbrough on Sen. Chip Rogers’ voucher bill, which Rogers  pulled this session because he lacked the votes to pass it. But Rogers remains committed to vouchers and will return with his bill next year.

After a long corporate career, Yarbrough was managing director of communications and government relations for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and is now a newspaper columnist.

Here is an excerpt of his column. Read the entire piece here.

It is not a beautiful day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

State Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, saw his beloved school voucher bill bite the dust this session. Groused Mr. Rogers, “We want to ignore the fact that our schools are failing. I’m going to have a hard time defending this one.” Not really.

Mr. Rogers, maybe public schools are failing because you and your colleagues have done a poor job of helping them succeed. Duh!

Rogers in his frustration at seeing the voucher bill shelved said the General Assembly spends more money on education than most any other issue and our state is almost dead last in results. Let me put on the corporate hat that I wore for 40 years, senator. If we had a department that was getting most of our corporate resources and we were not getting desired results, we would have fired whoever was in charge. In this case, that would be the Legislature.

Now, let’s get to the matter of vouchers — Chip Rogers and I have had this conversation before. He says vouchers are about “freedom” and “choice.” In his view, we should have the freedom and choice as to where we send our children to school. I couldn’t agree more.

Where we disagree is that I firmly believe that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for parents who wish to send their kids to private schools. The state has in place a program that allows a tax credit up to $2,500 for scholarships for public school children wanting to attend private schools. The cost? An estimated $50 million. Wouldn’t that money have covered much of the pre-K shortfall?

If parents want to send their children to private schools, let them. Also, let them pay for that decision. If they can’t afford it, then let the private schools dole out scholarships based on need.

So where do we go from here? I wish Gov. Deal would use his considerable legislative skills and assemble all the players that have a stake in public education — if there is a room big enough to hold them all — and keep them locked up until they agree on a shared vision for public education and establish a road map to get us there; a road map that will transcend future administrations and legislators.

If that can’t be done, then let’s agree to do away with public education altogether. Maybe the concept has outlived its usefulness. Let’s make home schooling, virtual schooling, charter schools and private schools the choices. But let’s make it a stated policy and quit trying to cannibalize public schools bit by bit.

Until somebody in state government shares with me a clear vision of the future of public education in Georgia, I will exercise my freedom and choice and continue to be unalterably opposed to school vouchers. Sorry about that, Mr. Rogers.

—from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

132 comments Add your comment

AJinCobb

March 26th, 2011
1:21 pm

“If that can’t be done, then let’s agree to do away with public education altogether. Maybe the concept has outlived its usefulness. Let’s make home schooling, virtual schooling, charter schools and private schools the choices. But let’s make it a stated policy and quit trying to cannibalize public schools bit by bit.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’m so tired of the right wing trying to chip away at public institutions by underfunding them. I don’t agree with their program, but I’d vastly prefer to give it a try and find out if it works or not, than to spend decades bickering over the expiring corpse of public education.

LEFTYLIBERAL

March 26th, 2011
1:25 pm

conservatives are still angry about the BROWN VS BOARD OF EDUCATION from 1954….theyre angry that people of color has access to an education….

lance

March 26th, 2011
1:26 pm

Chip Rogers and Tommie Williams – other than being totally corrupt idiots – are dedicated to destroying public education. But, voters in their district keep sending their dumb butts back to the Capitol each year!

lizbeth

March 26th, 2011
1:27 pm

I have never quite figured out vouchers. Many private schools are set up to offer better education program but a great many are also set up in opposition to public school teachings–to keep certain students out or a to teach a particular curriculum that public schools would (and should) refuse to teach. Why would these schools want public money and the students they would bring. Why would private schools want to have to abide by government laws to get public funds? Why wouldn’t private schools just raise their rates higher for undesirables? So many conservatives are pro-vouchers—I just can’t figure out what’s in vouchers for them, other than getting public money into private pockets.

Alfred

March 26th, 2011
1:35 pm

Another legislator killing public education is Jan Jones. All she cares about is home schoolers and wealthy parents who want to keep their childen from the low-lifes in public schools.

Dd

March 26th, 2011
1:36 pm

Yeah because the way we have always done it is working so well…..jeez you are kidding me? Whats wrong with getting kids out of hellholes before they can be dragged down by thugs who dont want others to succeed academically? Send your kid to an awful school and find out what it is really like, then you might not be so much against the only chance most of these kids have to get the heck out before tHey are sucked into gangs and thugdom. Have some compassion for the few kids and struggling parents who are desperately trying to make something of their lives

Nona

March 26th, 2011
1:41 pm

Get the politicians out of education and let educators run the education system! Most legislators are insurance & real estate professionals and lawyers who don’t know a dang thing about how to educate a child or how to run a school (much less a school system), and who have never encountered a school except the one they attended or maybe the one their kids went to (OK, so maybe they’ve been to a few others for sports events and campaigning). Putting them in charge of education is like asking me to cure the common cold just because I’ve caught a few over the years, only unlike the legislators, I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m qualified for that responsibility. How do we tolerate this idiocy? GET LEGISLATORS’ HANDS OUT OF EDUCATION FUNDS AND OUT OF EDUCATION POLICY!

Tony

March 26th, 2011
1:45 pm

Mr. Yarbrough, thank you for calling out Sen. Rogers on this issues. In response to the call for a shared vision on public education in Georgia, here is a good start. http://www.visionforpubliced.org/

@lance – too many districts in Georgia continue to elect the same people with the same agenda.

@lizbeth – your last phrase says it all!

brad

March 26th, 2011
1:48 pm

Georgia is as Georgia votes. What a shame.

Atlanta mom

March 26th, 2011
1:51 pm

lizbeth,
Private schools want the vouchers, but they are not agreeing to any of the oversight public schools are subjected to.

hnbc

March 26th, 2011
1:51 pm

I never thought I’d find much to agree with Dick Yarbrough on but I sure do have to say, I’m 110 percent behind what he’s saying about public education in Georgia. Private school has always been an option for parents. Maybe, instead of trying to destroy public education, those parents who find private education a tad expensive, could work to make changes in the cost of that private education. Not to mention they could also work to make improvements in public school education for their children.

I do not have children. I was not educated in Georgia. I do own a home. I have never utilized public school education in Georgia but I willingly pay my property taxes knowing that some of that money is going for a worthwhile cause … education of our children for the future. I consider it my responsibility to help with that.

With all this talk about public money going to private schools, no way! I want to see my portion of my property tax reduced or eliminated if/when vouchers are put into place. I have no need or desire to help support private schools. I will however support public education.

Just A Teacher

March 26th, 2011
1:59 pm

@ Dd . . . Whats wrong with getting kids out of hellholes before they can be dragged down by thugs who dont want others to succeed academically?

All it takes to get rid of gangs and thugs in public schools is an administration willing to kick the bums out and, more importantly, a student body that won’t pay any attention to them. If your child is in a gang, it is his own choice and all he has to do is tell them to leave him alone or he’ll call the cops then go home and study.

Lee

March 26th, 2011
2:05 pm

The bottom line:

If public education were doing a great job, there wouldn’t be such a groundswell for alternatives to it. Thirty years ago, there might have been two private schools within 25 miles of my home. Today, I know of at least twenty-five. There is a reason for that.

“If we had a department that was getting most of our corporate resources and we were not getting desired results, we would have fired whoever was in charge. In this case, that would be the Legislature.”

Sorry. Can’t place the blame for this mess entirely on the legislature. Bad laws at the federal level (NCLB, IDEA, etc), bad curriculum at the state level, bad governance at the local level, and crappy teachers, parents, and students all contributed to this mess.

@Nona; re “Get the politicians out of education and let educators run the education system!” You mean like Beverly Hall and her minions? Crawford Lewis? Not great confidence builders there.

West

March 26th, 2011
2:10 pm

Trying to MAKE public schools succeed is like trying to push a rope. Vouchers for private schools will unleash creativity and innovation that will transform education so drastically that everyone will be wondering why we didn’t do it sooner – pull the rope…duh.

Cobb Teacher 2

March 26th, 2011
2:12 pm

Lefty Liberal: What an ignorant statement. As a conservative teacher who has worked in Title I schools for ten years, I can assure you that we have no problem whatsoever with children of color obtaining an education. In fact, many of my highest achieving students are minorities.

I do, however, see a correlation between struggling students and single parent homes. It’s not that these parents don’t care, but it is very difficult for one parent shoulders the burden for 100% of home, financial, and parenting responsibilities. If that home operates below the poverty line, that child is at a serious disadvantage. It’s not race that is the determining factor, but family and socioeconomic status.

It is my belief that the breakdown of the American family is to blame for the problems we are facing in education.

Simple Solution

March 26th, 2011
2:14 pm

The SIMPLE SOLUTION to this MESS is a change in attitudes by parents, school administrators and the legislature.

1. High School Graduation should be mandatory by law! If you refuse to graduate, you are forced to go to boot camp and get a vocational degree. No other options.

2. Parents should be mandated by law (since they don’t do it now) to be involved in school at least 10 hours per school year. I know corporate greed may try to hinder this. But, the results would be worth it.

3. Distracting kids should automatically be put into an alternative school. Get rid of the distractions and kids WILL learn.

4. Get rid of the teacher’s union. But, raise the expectations and raise the salary to get brighter minds. Get rid of the thought…”anyone can be a teacher.” It should be a select few. With the right structure in place, it will be.

WE HAVE TO PLACE A HIGHER VALUE ON EDUCATION THAN WE DO NOW!

Cobb Teacher 2

March 26th, 2011
2:18 pm

Atlanta Mom: Your statement is also one of ignorance. The most desirable thing about private schools is that they are free from government oversight. Most importantly, they don’t run on the testing machine that public schools are forced to operate under. That is why private schools will always outperform public schools.

Toto

March 26th, 2011
2:22 pm

@ Simple Solution
I think you would be happier in Communist China.
Chairman Mao comes to mind…..

ScienceTeacher671

March 26th, 2011
2:28 pm

Private schools don’t always outperform public schools. I’ve had students enter public school from the workbook curriculum private schools and they were almost always woefully behind.

The private schools that do outperform public schools almost always spend at least as much, and probably more, per student than public schools do, but don’t accept the students with learning and behavior problems, and frequently don’t offer many of the “extras” (cafeteria, transportation, etc.) that public schools are required to have.

And truthfully, most of the time the students the private schools would want to admit are doing just fine in their local public schools. It’s those the private schools would likely not admit who are causing the schools to “fail”.

But bottom line is, Mr. Yarborough is correct. “A free and adequate public education” is, according to the Georgia Constitution, “a primary obligation” of the state. If the State is not fulfilling its primary obligation, of what use is it?

BehindEnemyLines

March 26th, 2011
2:30 pm

At least cannibalizing them would be a good use of the corpse, certainly better than letting it continue to stink up the state while forcing taxpayers to throw good money after bad trying to preserve it.

@CobbTeacher – not sure what private schools you’re familiar with but I can assure you that the good ones most definitely acknowledge the critical importance of standardized test scores & for many they represent a critical selling point. The biggest difference I’ve found is that they don’t waste time whining about them, they go to work & conquer them.

ScienceTeacher671

March 26th, 2011
2:34 pm

@Simple Solution: You obviously don’t work in a school, nor do you know much about education in Georgia – or perhaps anywhere else.

1. Not every child has the intellectual capacity to graduate from high school. Should we criminalize mental retardation?

2. Some of the parents at our school are documented substance abusers and sex offenders. Do you think they should be working at school with your children present? Would you let your child go spend time at the home of EVERY other child in school?

3. Can’t disagree with that one.

4. What union? Where?

Dekalb taxpayer

March 26th, 2011
2:42 pm

AJinCobb, I must disagree with your belief that public schools are “underfunded.” In Georgia, and certainly in the metro-Atlanta area, plenty of local, state, and federal dollars are being poured into education. The problem is incompetent management of those funds and even, in some cases, corruption.

Wilma

March 26th, 2011
2:42 pm

For many decades, Americans had a broad consensus around public schooling. Many of us attended school as kids and worked there as parents. We went to PTA, supported the teachers and felt supported by them in return. School and home were a team in developing our children.
The sad fact is that public schools are a reflection of the broader society. Teachers are not interested in being partners, many parents are uninvolved or uncaring. The schools are seen by many as agents to accomplish some social change without the involvement of the parents. Discipline is a disaster. Many schools have been openly antagonistic to the values and positons of parents.
Parents are quite logically asking why they should pay for private school and for failing public schools too. Parents in areas with particularly difficult schools might support public schools in concept but are unwillig to cover that bet with the educational lives of their kids. People like me, whose kids are out of the house, would pay for public schools in our taxes if they were not failing miserably. More money has not proven to make the public schools better.
Perhaps the time has come to let the concept go, recognizing that a state sponsored, public, one size fits all, school model just no longer works.

Patricia - 34 year Veteran

March 26th, 2011
2:43 pm

I had just read this article just a few moments ago! I was nodding my head the entire time. I just do NOT understand why our legislators are so enamoured with this shift of public monies to private institutions. other than who donates to their campaigns. None of their arguments make a bit of sense. I pay a school tax for my tiny public rural school system which has continually faced budgeting issues that affect the hiring of better qualified teaching staff as well as support staff. I was pleased to see this issue shelved recently. Now, we need to make it known to our federal representatives in the House and Senate our federal tax dollars should not be sent to support private institutions in lieu of public schools.

catlady

March 26th, 2011
2:43 pm

Maybe we should only have private colleges, and forget the “frivolous” duplication with our public colleges. You know, because “all” private colleges outperform public colleges.

Oh, you say all private colleges are not Emory? And they can choose their students? You mean, the input (students) is critical to the outcome? And who would take the prospective students who want to go but are not admitted to the private colleges?

Same thing as public K-12 schools, except education K-12 is required to be offered. Even to the “common” people.

Thank you, Mr. Yarborough.

A teacher

March 26th, 2011
2:45 pm

Dick Yarborough a great friend of teachers. Thank you for standing up for us and public education.

catlady

March 26th, 2011
2:51 pm

Oh, and as to the law that now allows folks to donate money to private school scholarships, on a dollar to dollar trade-off with their taxes: I want to do this also. I have some causes I want to support with this kind of trade-off. Which legislators can I line up to ram this legislation through so I can donate to what I think are good causes and get a dollar for dollar Georgia income tax trade-off?

Knock Out Punch

March 26th, 2011
3:05 pm

Cobb Teacher 2….I agree with you! I too am a conservative minded teacher, though not at a Title school (yet). My students are minority majority (as is my county). As you state, the greatest problems I see are not with minority students per se, but with students that come from single parent/mom homes. These kids are fighting an uphill battle, and I try to help them achieve, but how is the fact that Mom had little Johnny or Susie when she was 15 and is now struggling to provide my fault? No, the greatest problem with face with schools today is societal and cultural.

John Galt

March 26th, 2011
3:07 pm

No one can come on here and make a legitimate case that the public school system is succeeding. The only thing that I can see them doing better than private schools is educating the super-achieving students; the resources of the public schools dwarf those of the so-called “wealthy” private schools (schools like Wesleyan, GAC and Woodward are a TINY minority and really don’t belong in this discussion). The public schools segregate the high-achieving, self-motivated students and their opportunities are far greater than similar students in private schools.

HOWEVER- the students in the botton quartile are practically deserted in the public middle and high schools. Unfortunately, those with limited ability are thrown in with those with limited desire to learn, and the environment and the opportunities are terrible.

I am barely hanging on in this economy but I have literally begged and borrowed (no stealing) to keep my 5th child in private school, graduating as the other 4 did; the personal sacrifice of my wife and me has been significant, but I have never considered myself to have an option.

In my experience the loudest supporters (but not all) of public education- or let me say “defenders” of public education- fall primarily in 2 categories:
- Public educators defending the system on which they depend for a livelihood; and
- Parents too selfish to sacrifice for the benefit of their children.

Other than the children themselves, the real losers in this debate are those parents who simply cannot afford, sacrifice or not, to escape the public system even though they see the shortfalls. Those parents are heavy-hearted indeed, though helpless to better their child’s life preparation. Fortunately these parents can compensate at home for some of the school’s failures.

Political Mongrel

March 26th, 2011
3:08 pm

Voucherheads tend to forget (or ignore) a major point: where is all this school space in private schools going to come from? Private schools are not privy to capital outlay or SPLOST funds. They don’t have unlimited room for an influx of students and are less than likely to outlay huge amounts of money for expansion of facilities. They don’t have to take a student they don’t want just because a parent shows up with a voucher in hand. The admissions process will become more than competitive, and lots will be turned away angry.

In case some folks forget history, in the late 1970’s there was a flurry of opening of new private schools. There were some notable successes from that era, but the majority of these small schools were opened by people who had no idea of the reality of running a school. Most folded after a couple of years, sometimes in the middle of the year, leaving students high and dry. In many cases, no one would accept the kids’ credits from the usually uncertified and unaccredited schools.

Schools are too complex for fly-by-night “free market” solutions. The final result each fall for vouchers will be tons of disappointed parents and students who have found that there is no room for them, or that the few new schools opened to handle the influx won’t be up to par.

Active in Cherokee

March 26th, 2011
3:11 pm

Great article by Mr. Yarborough – vouchers only put more public funds in private pockets.
A few Thoughts, many of which echo the sentinments of earlier readers:
1) Not all private schools out perform public schools. For those that do, they do not have to worry about 20-25% SPED students, 20-80% free/reduced lunch eligible students, and parents that don’t care about their student’s performance like every public school has.
2) A large majority of the top 10 schools in GA on the SAT where public schools on the latest report (though many of those where public magnet schools)
3) GA does not have an organized teachers union that has any sort of CB rights like 44 of the other state in the nation. Quit throwing that out there as a ‘problem’ and get your facts straight before giving us your uninformed thoughts.
4) I went to one of those ‘thug’ filled GA public schools. During my four years there I saw drugs, weapons, gang violence, stabbings, bomb threats, arson, and everything things else imaginable. That only made me want to work harder to graduate with honors, get an undergrad degree, get a masters degree, and hold a good job in order to get out of that situation. This is America, with hard work and dedication it is still possible, but it will not be handed to you – you have to want it and earn it.
I thank my parents and my teachers for the support they gave me and wish the legislative branch would spend a few days in that type of situation and help come up with real solutions – not simply ones that remove their children out of problems at the expense of thousands of less fortunate students.

Veteran teacher, 2

March 26th, 2011
3:13 pm

Hear, hear, Mr. Yarbrough!!

Patricia - 34 year Veteran

March 26th, 2011
3:13 pm

@ Simple Solution: AGAIN, and AGAIN…..We have NO, I repeat, NO educational UNIONs in Georgia!!!

Get rid of the thought…”anyone can be a teacher.” I agree this is an attitude that continues to negatively impact our profession.

John Galt

March 26th, 2011
3:13 pm

Catlady-

Find a cause in which you participate DESPITE there being a public-funded alternative which is failing and you find unacceptable and intolerable, but you must support anyway. Then perhaps you can make the case that you are funding the failing government system AND the escape route, and you deserve a break.

By the way, the parent cannot direct his tax money to this program and guarantee that his student will be accepted in a school and benefit from the funds. I managed this program at my children’s private school and well over 95% of the donors re-directed their taxes at no personal benefit to their children (you can’t even receive the benefit if you are already in private school.) The donors are those who want to provide the benefit that they can afford to others who cannot. There is no quid pro quo.

David Hoffman

March 26th, 2011
3:21 pm

The Georgia Pre-K program is to be funded only from the Lottery revenues. Taking general tax revenue money to save it from a shortfall was not in the enabling legislation the voters approved. That is what the Lottery reserves were used for in past years. If you wanted to save Pre-K from funding cuts this year, you should have advocated, several years ago, that the HOPE scholarship fund stop giving money to non scholars. The reserve fund would have been much larger if only high achieving SCHOLARS got scholarships. There would have been no Pre-K cuts this year.

There is a hidden secret in the public school system in every state. The huge amount of money spent on special needs children. If you exclude these special needs children from financial analysis, you find that real inflation adjusted cost per student has increased little in the past 20 to 30 years. Most of the increases have gone to taking care of children whose per student costs are 5 to 15 times what a regular student costs. The short buses, special bus attendants, individual education plans, special needs staff assistants, special needs staff, and the rest of it have huge costs associated with them. Add to that the cost of the criminal thugs allowed to attend public school and create havoc in the school system. I remember an episode of the TV series Boston Public in which the principal noted that most of his time, and the time of the teachers, was taken up with these two groups of students. He noted that is a big factor in why the regular kids consider public school learning tedious. The only kids who get staff attention are the problem kids.

Lets Do IT!

March 26th, 2011
3:22 pm

I couldn’t agree more Dick. Can public schools. Outsource it. Privatize it. Eliminate the Federal DOE, eliminate the State DOE and look at the savings. Is this about teachers, no. They will find jobs with the new private schools. At least the good ones will. Because the bad ones will not be hired or will not last. ALL problems solved!

John Galt

March 26th, 2011
3:23 pm

“Active”-

Your points are valid, but there-in lies the rub. The failure of the government schools lies in 2 primary areas:
1. GIGO- Garbage in, garbage out. Teachers cannot make chicken salad out of chicken litter. The private schools may indeed exclude those who cannot meet their standards; there is little a public school teacher can do with limited students without parental support.

2. OVER regulation. My daughter, privately educated, is a fantastic public school teacher. But shr rarely leaves her classroom bere 7:00 pm because she is engulfed in paperwork. She is a teacher superstar but I cannot imagfine that she can maintain this pace for many years.

You articulate WHY the public schools fail except for the self-motivated, outstanding student, which means that you acknowledge that they DO fail.

If you can get your child out of that “thug” filled schools, shouldn’t you?

Active in Cherokee

March 26th, 2011
3:47 pm

@John Galt-

Not saying there are not issues with public education which need to be solved. On the same token there are many issues with private schools that need to be solved. Think no further than the recent string of private schools that have gone broke and shut their doors leaving students and parents with no answers about money paid, money owed, or what they should do next except enroll the student in another private school or …..wait for it……public school.

Quick Rebuttle to your arguments:
1) GICO – aren’t most private schools solving this issue by only accepting the brightest students, ones with particular skills/talents, ones with active parents, or ones with expendable income? Our nation promises every child an education – so happens when those students come to private schools? I think the answer would be even more exclusive private schools. Public schools must have curriculum developed for every possible level of learner, it not perfected yet, but if the government would get their hand out of it it would be more suitable.

2) Over regulation is an issue that needs to be fixed. Too many unfunded mandates from both the national government and the state government have put our schools in a scary state of emergency. However, that issue has more to do with the ignorance of the government than the teachers and on-site administration at the schools. You won’t blame the mailman when they quit delivering mail on Saturdays because the government told them to, quit blaming the teachers.

Personally one of the biggest failures of the GA DOE was removing many of the vocational classes and the vocational degree. For many students these in underperforming schools, vocational classes were the best way to improve them selves. Again – these programs have been removed by elected officials, no by on site educators.

As for getting out the ‘thug’ schools, I’ve moved to Cherokee Co. to raise a family and intend for my children to be in the public schools. I don’t think anyone can make the argument that many public schools in North Fulton, East Cobb, North Gwinnett, Forsyth, or even Cherokee school disticts don’t edcuate students as well as (or in many cases) better than any private school that is even remotely affordable by the middle-class citizen.

Simple Solution

March 26th, 2011
3:51 pm

If you get rid of the distractions (gov’t, bureaucrats, thugs, etc.), teachers can teach and children can learn. That’s the primary reason that most private schools succeed.

Why can’t public schools do this? In the end, we all suffer if we don’t.

I believe ALL kids can achieve and succeed in the right environment!

Cherokee

March 26th, 2011
3:53 pm

Sadly, I live in Senator Rogers’ district. Very irritating guy – he is totally uninterested in the opinions of his constituents – I’ve made an effort on this and other topics.

I was pleasantly surprised though to see the Senate Republicans stand up to his poor leadership on this topic.

But as long as he has an “R” in front of his name, the good folks of Cherokee will keep sending him to Atlanta, unfortunately.

And by the way, in this area anyway, the public schools are far superior to the private schools – and I know that from personal experience with one of my children.

Buckhead Elite

March 26th, 2011
4:03 pm

Forget vouchers and “cannibalizing” public schools…..simply let everyone provide for their child’s education and then maybe some would value it more. Public education at this point is no more than babysitting for people who work…..any wonder the US educational system is lacking when compared to other countries?

One Question

March 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

If the state is not funding it’s primary obligation, can we have a class action lawsuit?

SW Dekalb Parent

March 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

Cherokee…..that be cause you rich white folks don’t have to put up with the trash we have here

JAT

March 26th, 2011
4:07 pm

Thanks to Mr. Yarbrough and I agree with Cherokee.

FBT

March 26th, 2011
4:09 pm

Why all the fear of vouchers? Is the money being spent to educate children or protect adults and institutions? Traditional public schools should have nothing to fear if they are providing quality educations in safe environments. If they aren’t, let someone who can provide quality educations have a turn. When parents have options, most will chose what works for their children.
As to the concerns private schools may teach concepts unpalatable to some, one can make the same argument about pubic schools where political correctness and government dependence is taught.
No school is perfect, but choices will improve quality.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 26th, 2011
4:14 pm

Rather than funneling money out of public education via vouchers for “private schools” why not address the problem of discipline in our schools by setting up “alternative” schools for those who are consistently disruptive in the classrooms.

I have taught in some very rough urban schools, and have had many hard working students with concerned parents. I also have had my run-ins with several disinterested students whose only reason for coming to class seemed to be to bully me and their classmates, disrupt the classroom as much as possible, and generally wreck havoc. If we could get those students OUT, the system would work much better for the rest of the children. Just ONE student cussing at you, threatening you, and throwing chairs will destroy a classroom environment. However, the system just continues to try and sweep these problems under the rug. No one wants to deal with it.

At one school where I worked, we were told to stop writing up students for disruptive behavior because too many African American students were being referred at our school, and it didn’t look good. We got warned by The Powers That Be that we were under scrutiny for possible discrimination. Apparently, the fact that our ENTIRE student body was black, and the fact that the other 90% of our students were having their learning disrupted by a few bad apples was not important. So no more referrals, and the inmates took over the asylum. Teachers were attacked. Students were attacked. Gangs roamed the halls intimidating everyone. Good students started staying home because they were being targeted as “selling out”. It was horrible.

When the administration, and higher-ups are afraid of stepping up to the plate to assure a quality education to ALL students because they are fearful of parent reaction if they actually DO something, then we have lost the battle and the casualties are the hard working students in our schools.

Establish alternative schools for students with behavior issues. When problems arise, inform the parents that their child needs to shape up or they will be shipped out. And then, STICK TO THE POLICY regardless of parental threats or threats from upper management. Give those students who want to learn a chance! Stop letting the disruptive students and parents hold our schools hostage!

Toto

March 26th, 2011
4:22 pm

“If that can’t be done, then let’s agree to do away with public education altogether. Maybe the concept has outlived its usefulness. Let’s make home schooling, virtual schooling, charter schools and private schools the choices. But let’s make it a stated policy and quit trying to cannibalize public schools bit by bit.”

Wow. Sounds good, but this statement has a HUGE flaw! Did you catch it? One of the choices is “charter schools”, A TAX SUPPORTED PUBLIC SCHOOL! Now, he wants you the taxpayer, to fund charter schools, which serves a targeted student body (much like a private school), and if it doesn’t fit your child, you will still have to pay for a private school. Taxpayers would still be on the hook. The only LEGAL solution would be to END THE COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE/EDUCATION LAW. There would be no charter schools, just private or home school. The U.S. and State Dept. of Education would be shut down. All school property would be sold AND THE PROFIT AND SAVINGS WOULD BE PASSED ON TO THE TAXPAYERS. This money and savings would be used by taxpayers to PROVIDE AN EDUCATION FOR THEIR OWN CHILDREN! Home schoolers WOULD BE ROLLING IN THE DOUGH! There would be NO PROPERTY TAXES! Corruption money WOULD BE CUT OFF! Non-productive employees WOULD BE ELIMINATED. Parents of troublesome kids would have to face the music! If most moms stayed home and home schooled, THERE WOULD BE PLENTY OF JOBS FOR THE DADS!

Active in Cherokee

March 26th, 2011
4:27 pm

@ “I love Teaching” – Those cases seem extreme and I’m sorry you had to deal with those situations. Good arguments about the alternative schools – though good programs would need to be established to make those schools more than prisons.

Public Money = Public Schools; Private Money = Private Schools!!!!! The answer is right there in the titles! The government doesn’t give Public Funds to private corporations like Banks, Car Manufactors, and Real Estate Agencies……..wait a minute…..Bush & Obama already did that……what is this country coming to? The Government needs to get out of the private world and focus on providing what it was set up to provide first.

ScienceTeacher671

March 26th, 2011
4:36 pm

@John Galt – The public schools segregate the high-achieving, self-motivated students and their opportunities are far greater than similar students in private schools.

HOWEVER- the students in the botton quartile are practically deserted in the public middle and high schools. Unfortunately, those with limited ability are thrown in with those with limited desire to learn, and the environment and the opportunities are terrible.

I am barely hanging on in this economy but I have literally begged and borrowed (no stealing) to keep my 5th child in private school, graduating as the other 4 did; the personal sacrifice of my wife and me has been significant, but I have never considered myself to have an option.

Your children aren’t high-achieving, they aren’t self-motivated, or both?

Because according to you, if they were high-achieving and self-motivated, they’d be better off in public school, correct?

old school doc

March 26th, 2011
4:44 pm

Amen to I love teaching’s post! Those cases are not extreme, and may represent why you have MANY bright, motivated kids from SW Atlanta doing whatever it takes to go to schools outside their zones. Bring back alternative and/or vocational schools!