|U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with moderator |
John Merrow at today's Twitter town hall event.
I want great public education. A seven-year-old doesn't know whether he's going to a public school or a voucher school...we underinvest in public education and we need to put more resources in, not to support the status quo, but to improve.It's funny that this is a statement about opposition to vouchers, because on a couple levels, it actually helps to reinforce the reasoning behind why we so ardently support vouchers for low-income kids.
First, he's exactly right that a child couldn't care less about the system in which his school sits. He and his parents want a school that gives him the best opportunity to prosper, and while that place is not a voucher school for everyone, it is a voucher school for many. Kids whose public school system is failing them but don't have the resources to choose a different path, kids who have special needs that aren't being met in public schools, and kids who attend school in an unsafe environment don't know that it's a public school that's fueling their struggles—they just know they're struggling.
The end goal is and always has been to relieve those struggles, regardless of the environment where that can best take place. The reality is that for some students, it's a public school; for others, it's a public charter school or a private school via a voucher.
Mr. Secretary, a seven-year-old kid doesn't care about the system, and neither do we. It's entrenched special interests that are concerned with the means, while we are, as we have said in the past, agnostic as to the delivery mechanism. But we do believe that there must be a full menu of mechanisms available for parents.
Second, he says that his investment in public schools would not be a means to fuel the status quo. Perhaps, but if so, why do we continue to see our reading and math scores fall, trailing behind a host of less prosperous countries when it comes to achievement? Those countries aren't succeeding as a result of more money; they're succeeding because they've been willing to exercise new methods of education in order to change the way that things have been done for so long.
We've been pouring money into public schools for decades and the return on our investment is actually decreasing. If we've been doing the same thing for ages and getting a worse and worse result, to refrain from change is to do nothing but except the status quo. Mr. Secretary, you have it backwards.
And with more and more parties calling this "The Year of School Choice" and more and more pieces of legislation garnering bipartisan support, we'd urge the Duncan to rethink his statement.
Because unless he wants to be left behind, at some point, he's going to realize that options for parents does them and their families good. The sooner he realizes that, the better off our country's children will be.
- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG