School Choice

I would like to now share some thoughts I’ve had while researching the idea of school choice. As I mentioned earlier, we do currently have school choice among the 6 elementary schools here in Burlington. I would prefer a more advanced school choice policy than we have right now. How about choices outside of Burlington and high school choice? About 90 towns in Vermont currently have complete choice as they lack a school district, why shouldn’t we as Burlingtonians have the choice as well? There are several different options here:

  1. We could allow school choice among public schools in Vermont, which would allow for a choice in which public high school you want to attend.

  2. We could allow school choice among public schools and include private schools, further expanding the pool of choices we would have.

To allow school choice among public schools, should be fairly easy to do as most likely what would happen as the money’s your child current are allotted by the your local and state government would be turned over to whatever public school you chose in the state. This would help increase competition for students and the quality should increase dramatically.

To allow school choice among public schools and private schools is more difficult as it’s more controversial. As many people fear what may happen if private schools were allowed to compete. Most of the fears are put out there by the public education people themselves because of course they fear competition. No group is going to support a move that would create more competition for themselves. There are a couple of ways of going about it to make sure that everyone has access to the best possible education that fits their beliefs. School Vouchers provides the choice to everyone so that no child rich or poor is left out. However, the critics say, “I don’t want my taxes going to pay for a private school, or I wouldn’t have any say in how it’s run, or private schools are too expensive.” I personally don’t really see the difference. With public schools, everyone working there, the teachers and the administration are working for a profit aren’t they? Costing much more than the private schools. I believe that with more competition including the private schools, the parents would have far more say than they do now. How much say does a parent really have in Burlington schools? If you don’t like what’s going on in the school, such as with the General Dynamics books for example, but nothing happens, what can you do… you still have to pay for school system that supports corporate help. What if you are not a democrat, support the war, believe in prayer and intelligent design… you still have to support a school system and have your child subjected to ideas that are against your personal beliefs. And regarding private schools being too costly… depending on who you talk to our per pupil costs for Burlington public schools are around $12,000 and the average for private schools is $3000-$4000. This is incredible to me. A third of the cost, they provide a superior education, and they still are able to make a profit. There’s obviously something very wrong with the economics of our public schools.

Another spin on school choice among public and private schools is that the town could offer property tax refund and renter rebates to individuals that chose to opt out of the system for their educational costs. This method would actually save the city money as for each child that opted for private school or even home-schooling, they city would be only liable for the $3,000-$4,000 instead of the full $12,000. A very interesting idea I think. Something definitely worth looking into.

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