Notice anything about the recent op-ed from RI Education Commissioner Ken Wagner?
Some claim that charters take money that is owed to district schools. In my view, the money is not “owed” to district schools or any other education provider. Local, state and national taxpayers raised this money for a specific purpose: to educate the youth of a community. We have an obligation to ensure the money serves the children rather than simply maintains the current system.
This is the core of the argument that I’ve been proffering for total school choice. Public dollars aren’t collected and expended for the maintenance of a government-branded school system, but for the cause of educating the public. Whatever structure or method will accomplish that goal most effectively and economically is the proper one.
Indeed, just about every argument in Wagner’s essay would apply to education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, or any other school choice vehicle and could be added to the Bright Today list of myths.
It is only through the devotion of insiders to the status quo and their control of public information that this point remains sufficiently obscure that Wagner doesn’t feel he has to address it. The people are starting to figure it out, though, and it is yet another area in which those of us who really wish to move Rhode Island forward for the benefit of its people need only guide their natural conclusions.
Consider Dan McGowan’s WPRI article on public testimony regarding the Achievement First charter school expansion proposal before the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. The article is 17 paragraphs long. Here’s the 13th:
But the majority of individuals who testified about Achievement First Tuesday encouraged the council to back the expansion.
That is, after 12 paragraphs — three-quarters of the article — conveying the points of view of insiders, who are in the minority, McGowan finally gets to what should arguably have been the headline of the article: that people want school choice. When all is said, the only argument to prevent the people from using public funds for their preferred public policy is maintenance of the government plantation.