Saturday, March 7, 2009

Do You Agree or Disagree With the Views of PAGE Regarding Vouchers?

Do you agree or disagree with the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) on vouchers? We have talked several times about the lack of ability or ability for teachers in public education to defend themselves regarding public issues regarding their jobs and the issues which affect them. Some individuals appear to think that teachers cannot lobby for themselves. This is an example of the network teachers have to lobby their representatives. Teachers have representation under the gold dome daily. Do you think that teachers around the state will have an impact on the decision made regarding vouchers? Do you feel teachers do lobby successfully regarding educational issues?

I am shocked that teachers who work for the Dekalb County School System have a difficult time under the recent stipulations of the county school administration, to speak directly to the school board, either at school board meetings, or in any other form of communication. Any citizen of Dekalb should be able to speak at school board meeting regardless if they are a teacher or not. The decisions the school board makes directly affects the teachers, the parents, and every citizen in Dekalb County. Why should teachers be given different guidelines to speak at the school board meeting? I see this as being discriminatory toward teachers who live in Dekalb County. They are not given the same opportunity as other Dekalb County citizens. How do you feel about this topic? You are welcome to disgree with me. It is important to look at all sides of the issues to get a broader perspective. Read the article below and please tell us how you feel.

Report from the Capitol – Voucher Alert
By Margaret Ciccarelli on March 5, 2009

SB 90, legislation which would allow every Georgia public school student to attend private school using a voucher, recently passed the Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill is in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting placement on the Senate voting calendar. Immediate action is needed to stop this harmful legislation.

PAGE is unalterably opposed to vouchers as extremely harmful to public education and likely harmful to private education as well. We fail to see how taking students and resources away from public schools will lead to their improvement. Given the economic crisis public schools are facing it is unconscionable to seriously consider a voucher proposal such as this. PAGE remains opposed to use of public funds for private education, which this legislation calls for. We would prefer that the state return to its efforts on improving public education, which affects more than 1.6 million students, rather than focusing on funding programs that at most will only affect a relatively few students. While this legislation may be a sincere effort to help those students who are not succeeding in public schools, we believe that the solution lies in improving the schools rather than abandoning them. For schools that are not succeeding there are a series of increasingly severe interventions which include changes in staffing, changes in leadership and takeover by the state. These sanctions are serious and when warranted are, in our view, a solution that addressed the root problem. We prefer to look for solutions within the framework of public education. One thing we all need to agree on is that no scholarship or voucher program should result in a loss of funds to public schools.

Please contact your state Senator today and ask your Senator to vote against SB 90. Please note that you should not email your Senator from your school email address or email your Senator during school hours.

To find the contact information for your state Senator, visit the State Senate website of the Georgia General Assembly.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with PAGE on the definition of public education. Public education is, in my mind, that which educates the public and is not be limited to what happens in the public school system.

Wouldn't it be novel if our publicly financed schools and school boards took a broader approach to education rather than the "us vs. them" model. If the focus were really on an educating the public rather than educating the subset of students who attend public schools, everyone could benefit. Homeschoolers who wished to take an AP Chemistry class at the local high school could do so, private school students could receive speech therapy, etc. Rather than looking at these sorts of inclusive programs as "stealing money away from public schools" we should see them as what they are - efforts to improve the overall level of education in our community. Whether or not children attend a public school, they are members of the public and we are all served when they are well educated.

Cerebration said...

I've waffled on this topic. I really believe that if public schools are doing a good job, parents will continue to send their children to them. However, if they are not, then those children deserve a chance elsewhere. No one should be chained to a school simply because it is near their home.

Note the huge transfer of students in DeKalb county high schools as an example. Since the enactment of NCLB and the accompanying "AYP" transfers from schools that do not make the grade, schools like Lakeside, Druid Hills, Chamblee and Dunwoody have been inundated with hundreds of transfer students. That is a definite vote of "No Confidence" in your assigned public high school. This "transfer" option will boom if some of the new legislation allowing cross-county transfers at will passes into law.

However - what happens if you are a student at Lakeside, Druid Hills, Chamblee or Dunwoody and feel that the school still doesn't serve your needs or that your child is unable to learn there? There is no option for those students. This voucher would provide that option - that boost - and may enable some who still cannot find a school that fits their needs, to possibly be able to now afford to attend a private program.

It's the same thing as NCLB in reality - isn't it? Since we've already passed laws allowing students to transfer into historically high-achieving schools at will, then we have no reason to not allow students who would like to leave that school (or any other) to attend a school of their choosing - even if it's private and take their student-allotted funding with them.

Ella Smith said...

According to Wikipedia:

Public education is education mandated for or offered to the children of the general public by the government, whether national, regional, or local, provided by an institution of civil government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by taxes.

Public education often involves the following:

1. compulsory student attendance (until a certain age or standard is achieved);
2. certification of teachers and curricula, either by the government or by a teachers' organization;
3. testing and standards provided by government.

The term "public education" is not synonymous with the term "publicly funded education". Government may make a public policy decision that it wants to have some financial resources distributed in support of, and it may want to have some control over, the provision of education which is not public education. Grants-in-aid of private schools and voucher systems provide examples of publicly funded education which is not public education. Conversely, a public school (including one run by a school district) may rely heavily on non-public funding (such as high fees or private donations) and still be considered public by virtue of public ownership and control.

Anonymous said...

I think I now support vouchers. The Board just extended Dr. Lewis' contract until October 2011.

At the same time, the Board approved, in principal, the Marine Institute without knowing how much year 2 will cost. Impressive, eh? I think the Marines provide substantial start up funding and then that is it.

It is going to be a stand alone facility with no more than 650 students once it is 9-12, but the first year it will be 9th grade only. So next year, we will be paying for a principal for a building with approximately 150 students in it.

Cerebration said...

I know that families in Washington DC are very upset at the prospect of losing their vouchers --

From the Heritage Foundation

Omnibus Spending Bill Eliminates Opportunity: As it stands now, the House omnibus bill will eliminate the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP). Since the program’s inception in 2004, the DCOSP has given thousands of low-income students in the District of Columbia access to a better education.

For Children in Need: About 1,700 children currently attend private school using opportunity scholarships. The average household income of a DCOSP family is $23,000.

Safe and Effective Learning Environments: DCOSP has yielded positive results for its participants. Studies show higher parent satisfaction with their child’s school safety and learning environment, and test scores are moving in the right direction as students regain ground lost in their previous under-performing schools.

Traded in for Violence and Low-Performance: Eliminating DCOSP would take students who are flourishing in a safe and effective learning environment and send them back into a public school system that ranks 51st nationally in student achievement, where barely half of all students graduate high school, and where one in every eight students reports being assaulted or injured with a deadly weapon.

Yet Costs Less: DCOSP costs less per student than traditional federal programs and provides a better learning experience. The $13 million cost of DCOSP is a drop in the bucket compared to the $68 billon in the federal budget for the Department of Education. The stimulus bill alone added $140 billion over two years to the Department of Education, including $15 billion for Pell grants, which support school choice for upper-income college students.

Something All Should Agree On: Nationally, school choice policies like the DCOSP have attracted bipartisan support. Fourteen states in total offer students a choice in education, including Louisiana, where a voucher bill sponsored by Democrats was signed into law in 2008. State legislative chambers controlled by Democrats in Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have approved school choice bills in recent years.

By and large, wherever you read about this, DC families do not want to lose these scholarships.

Anonymous said...

Waffling is good. It shows different viewpoints--"opponents say", "supporters say".
But isn't this "academic" if the Obama Admin says it is--
"Charters, not vouchers" will be the program from DC--period. Georgia's for dinos.

Cerebration said...

Re: The fiscal impact of SB 90...
I found some interesting data regarding this subject - by reading - of all things - Talk Gwinnett online...

Senator Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) has unveiled a plan that would allow parents to use a scholarship to send their child to the public or private school of their choice. Yet within minutes of Johnson's Groundhog Day announcement, it was like "Groundhog Day" the movie, with the naysayers repeating their predictions. Critics claimed his legislation would "take money from underfunded public schools."

An analysis of this proposal by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, however, shows that revenues per student would in fact increase by about $900 per student - 10.3 percent - if a large number of students left public schools for a school that their parents believe better serves their child.

How does that happen? If a child moves to a private school, only state funding follows that child. Local tax revenues, which account for more than 40 percent of school funding on average, are not affected. As a result, funds available for the students still in that school system are increased because the funding that would have been spent on the students who are no longer there can be spread out among the students who remain. Put differently, local school systems will still get paid for students they do not teach. And, with the state likely to see more fiscal belt-tightening, those funds are critical. Information on the increase in funds available for all school systems in Georgia can be found at the link below.

Fiscal Impact of SB 90

Cerebration said...

Visit here for the entire Talk Gwinnett article