We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The middle class and poor have little access to the choices of K-12 schools that the more prosperous have. Government schools have a de-facto monopoly in this industry - 90% of the business, and the government collects the tuition at gunpoint.
Like GM, this industry is owned by the unions and, as Albert Shanker infamously said, "When the kids vote in the union, we'll be for the kids."
I can think of no principled reason why parents should not be given a voucher for the equivalent of their kid's education cost to be carried to a school of their choice. Not to use Euroland as a good example of anything other than good sightseeing, but they do that in Sweden and people are happy with it.
Furthermore, I believe there should be at least nominal stipends for home schoolers, or reimbursement for the costs.
People want choice. The unions want to keep them on their plantation, and the unions own the Dem Party.
If you have never done so, visit a private school, a religious school, and a charter school sometime. I have seen them all. They are not government McSchools (not that most public schools aren't pretty good for kids and families who have their acts together).
For me, the issue is choice and variety. Home schooling should not be the only alternative.
I went to a boarding prep school. Ironically, our class president became a Marxist! At a reunion several (10 - 15) years ago, he complained about the high tuition (I believe it was $18K/year at the time). I almost laughed out loud because the Washington DC schools were spending on the order of $11K/year, didn't provide room and board or a decent education - but hey, it was $7K cheaper, right?
Oh the arguments against you are legion. You have to do it like Arizona, as a slow charter growth regime, sustained over multiple legislatures and governors.
a) it would be disruptive to the kids. There would be a lost generation of students who got a substandard education during the transition, they would go to bad startup schools.
b) the existing schools would be depopuplated, which would have to lay off teachers, who would then have to take pay cuts to work at charter schools. Oh the humanity!
c) a bunch of ne'er-do-wells, amateurs, and outright grifters would start up schools, take the money, and run.
d) and easily the most difficult to rebut, and the most likely to kill your proposal, the quality of education would become racially and ethnically stratified, with some ethnic and racial cultures supporting better schools, and other cultures and ethnics who don't place a priority on schooling, having their kids fall further behind. There are plenty of State and Federal judges who would stop this in a New York minute.
For these reasons and more, charter schools are a long-term, boil the frog kind of change.
tHANK YOU FOR YOUR POSTING! You are absolutely right, but the reasons are complex. First and foremost is the horrible way teachers are trained in this country. I went back to school at age 45 to get an "official" teaching certificate after homeschooling and substitute teaching for 20 years. SCARY! I had a class called "Human Relations in Teaching", where we heard that if you were black, female or poor the education system was going to screw you. READING? NAH! (Ihappen to believe that the best social justice is READING!) On a unit on religion we had to face Mecca and pray. The only requirement for passing the class was to "open our hearts" to our fellow students in a journal....right, me, a 45 year old widow trying to raise a chronically ill son (with no public assistant) was going to open her heart to 20 year olds who spent the weekend binge drinking at the frat house! I wrote what Isaw as the truth, and almost got kicked out of school for disagreeing with the professor. Now that I am a (fabulous) teacher of impoverished Hispanic boys out west (boys only, I love it, none of that crap telling boys all the things wrong with them) the level of incompetent boobery I confront every day is almost more than I can stand. Which is another problem with our education system...the number of teachers with multiple masters or PhDs who could not teach ...much less construct a correct sentence...out of a paper bag is ridiculous. CREDENTIALS, I CURSE YOU! How often do the students come first? Don't ask. Now that we are facing massive budget cuts I am ready to move on to my own education enterprise if I get cut...providing the great things I do for less$ than private school and better services than what the public school can provide. Your piece showed me that I am on the right track...that my brief time in public school may have been just the thing to prepare me for REAL teaching.Onward toward real change...one student at a time!
We had to take my daughter out of public high school, she just couldn't be in classes with 35 other kids and thrive. She is now in a private school and has gone from failing half her classes to getting nothing lower than a B in any class she has taken. She now wants to go to school when it used to be a fight to get her to go. I would sure love a voucher to help offset the cost. She is in a private school that has 50 students and 8 teachers.