And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Another Governor to watch closely is Gov. Scott Walker

Posted on: May 19, 2011

» Gov. Scott Walker Fights Republicans, Unions in Mission to Expand School Choice – Big Government.

Governor Scott Walker like Cristie of New Jersey is another governor to watch and hopefully learn from.  Walker is a fighter like Christie but lacks the new Jersey in your face attitude.  In fact, he is a gentleman at all times; a gentleman who stands firm for his beliefs.   He battled the teachers unions over their contracts and  so- called “right” to bargain (read that riot and strike and clutter up state buildings while calling in sick from their jobs).  With that issue working it’s way thru the courts he has now taken on the teachers unions and failing public schools over the  school choice issue.  He will win I have no doubt.

Is he perhaps the “sleeper” Republican who will come out for the Presidential run at the last minute?  Pair him up with Bachmann and I think we have a winning team.   Both are fighters who will stand firm for their beliefs but both are  professionals in their dealing with opponents regardless of what they are subjected to.  BB

Gov. Scott Walker Fights Republicans, Unions in Mission to Expand School Choice

by Kyle Olson

School choice is on the move in Wisconsin, at least in

Milwaukee County.

The state Assembly has approved a bill that will increase the number of voucher students in Milwaukee, and increase the number of private schools they can choose from.

But an idea recently suggested by Gov. Scott Walker, to spread voucher opportunities beyond Milwaukee to Green Bay, Racine and Beloit, received a cool reception from Senate President Mike Ellis, as well as several other Republicans.

Ellis also questioned a reform, embedded in the governor’s budget proposal, that would lift income restrictions from voucher programs so all families would be eligible to participate.

That leads me to wonder if some Republicans, once committed to the concept of public school reform, have lost their nerve in the face of obnoxious union rallies and recall efforts.

I also wonder if Walker might have received a more positive response if he had targeted the entire state for voucher eligibility, in the same manner as Indiana. Only expanding to three cities may not sit well with legislators from areas that would not benefit.

School choice is best for all families and students. Every child is unique, and parents are best equipped to choose a school that fits their needs.

The state of Wisconsin provides a certain amount of money for every K-12 student in the state. What’s wrong with letting parents spend that money at the school of their choice?

Walker sought to build momentum for school choice expansion with his keynote address to the National Policy Summit of the American Federation for Children in Washington, D.C. last week.

He focused on the idea that all students have the right to equal access to a quality education.

“Every kid, no matter where they live, no matter what their background, no matter what their parents do for a living … deserves the opportunity to have a great education because they each have limitless potential,” Walker told his audience.

“We have 100,000 kids that we serve in the city of Milwaukee. Roughly 20,000 go to choice schools but that means that 80 percent of our families are looking at some other option and the majority of which are (using) public schools … many of which fail to live up to the standard we expect for each and every child in that community and in our state.

“We fail as a country, we fail as a nation, we fail as a society if any of our kids slip through the cracks. We have to make sure every single one of them have the same opportunities we’d want for our children and grandchildren.”

Walker referred to studies that show Milwaukee children in the voucher program are 17 times more likely to graduate from high school than their counterparts in Milwaukee public schools.

“If you look at the kids who come into the Milwaukee parental choice program, they more often than not come in (with lower learning levels) than kids in the Milwaukee public school system. But in the end, one of the most important outcomes is that they’re 17 percent more likely to graduate by the time they’re done.

“One of our greatest challenges is keeping kids in the system all the way to graduation … It used to be that just graduating was enough to get a job, but these days you’ve got to have a two-year or four-year post-secondary education component just to get a job in our society. If you’re not making it through graduation you’re going to be another statistic.”

Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers’ union, is trying to recall several Republican senators from office and destroy the GOP majority in the chamber.

The union’s president, Mary Bell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that research “does not support broadening choice.”

I believe the only research that matters is the research conducted by the parents of every individual student in Wisconsin and America.

If they find a school that fits their child’s needs – be it public, public charter, private or religious – they should have a right to use their share of state money to enroll their child in that school.

Somehow our society has been blinded into thinking that government-run schools have an exclusive right to K-12 students. State constitutions mandate that governments provide an education to every student in their jurisdiction. That does not mean those students have to attend government-run schools.

By providing the means for students to finance an education, the state has met its constitutional responsibility. At that point the state should step aside and let parents decide where that education will take place.

As far as I can tell, the only reason for enforcing geographic school boundaries is to provide a guaranteed clientele, and guaranteed jobs, for unionized teachers. That’s not a very good reason to keep any kid trapped in any school that’s not meeting his or her needs.

Scott Walker seems to understand that.  The union doesn’t and it’s unrealistic for us to hope otherwise.  Will legislative Republicans?

Leaders should be going bold in their attempts to save children from failing public schools.  This is not the time to be pussyfooting around, making sure the adults aren’t offended by reforms that put the interests of children first.

A+ For School Choice

by Rebekah Rast

Upon learning that average per pupil spending in the public education system is $9,000, recent Rasmussen poll takers overwhelming stated their dissatisfaction with the return on their investment.

It’s hard to blame them.  Per pupil spending on education has tripled since the 1960s and increased 138 percent since 1985, but test scores and academic achievements remain stagnant and unchanged.

Noticing this trend, taxpayers and parents have found other options—an alternative to the status quo.  Americans are used to variety and choice and thought the education system should offer nothing less.

“In our society choice is something we’ve all been used to,” says Jeff Sands, senior manager of school development for Northeastern and Central California for the California Charter Schools Association.  “Now you can find schools that fit your needs and styles.”

The charter school movement has grown to 4,600 schools serving more than 1.4 million students nationally.

Charter schools have been a welcomed change for taxpayers, parents, students and those states and local governments who have adopted them.

What makes charter school different than public schools?

For one, it gives parents more options of where to send their child.  Also, charter schools have more freedom from the many regulations of public schools.  Charter schools allow students and teachers more authority to make decisions.  Instead of being accountable to rules and regulations like public schools are, charter schools are focused on the students and academic achievement and upholding their charter.  (One big reason for Charter Schools being free from all the rules and regulations is the lack of administration pencil pushers who make up all this nonsense in order to justify their jobs!   Every school system in the country could cut their administration staff by 50% and never miss them! BB)

“Charter schools are much more flexible in their spending and methods,” Sands says.  “They can go with longer days and weekends.  You could have a school with a strong focus on languages or arts or agriculture.  You can use methods and interactions where the main focus is not on the results, but the results happen anyways.”

If charter schools are such a welcomed change, then why are 10 states still opposed and fight against letting them in?

When parents do not have a choice of where to send their child to school, they can become stuck in a union-run, public school monopoly that has no incentive to better itself.  The only group that benefits from this design is the teachers unions.

“About 95 percent of charter schools are non-union,” says Mike Antonucci, director of the Education Intelligence Agency (EIA).  This causes a lot of opposition from teachers unions.

“Unions lose members,” says Antonucci, whenever a new charter schools opens.  “Every teacher in a charter school means one less union member and unions want more money.  This can put a dent in union’s bottom line.”

Sands agrees and adds, “Charter schools have lots of resistance from unions and school boards.

Despite the strong opposition from unions and school boards, many charters are doing very well and opening new schools each year.

Since California approved a charter school law in 1992, it has seen a steady increase of new charters opening.  Sands says last year more than 100 new charter schools opened their doors to new students and teachers.

As new charter schools open around the country providing new opportunities for students and parents, teachers also benefit from school choice.

“As testing becomes so core to school districts, teachers end up having to all teach the same thing at the same time—the whole objective is good scores,” states Sands.  “This puts undue pressure on educators and removes them from the decision-making, professionalism of teaching.  It is becoming very scripted.”

Charter schools give teachers opportunities to think outside the box, try new learning techniques and cater to children’s individual needs and wants.  It would seem that this kind of freedom would be a welcome change for an educator—especially at a time when states are forced to trim their budgets often cutting programs and pulling funds from school districts.

If a charter does not live up to expectation or meet its requirements, then like all businesses, the charter would cease to exist.  “Offering the best products and customer interaction is at the core of any charter school,” Sands comments.  “Many of them understand that they are a nonprofit and have to do smart business.”

Charter schools face more responsibility and accountability than the public counterparts, but they also offer much greater opportunity.

In a free-market, choice fuels competition and produces quality and distinctive products.  A growing dissatisfaction with public schools does not mean all public schools are bad and that all parents and students are ready to up and leave for a charter school.  It means there is a need for choice and competition.

“Charters are not intended to replace public schools, they apply pressure and competition,” Sands concludes.  “The objective is not to privatize education but to compete to make all schools better.”

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