Thursday, July 19, 2012

Echoes of Support for School Choice, Disappointment in Setbacks

You'll recall that, last month, we decried another setback of the Opportunity Scholarship Act in New Jersey, and it turns out that we're far from the only ones who were upset about the inability of the legislature to pass school choice legislation. 

In a letter to the editor appearing in the Courier Post, a Voohees, N.J., resident echoed the same frustration shared by advocates around the state:  political games are blocking a bipartisan bill that could help thousands of Garden State children.

Published yesterday in the Courier Post, one school choice supporter wrote:

The parents of children in Camden and several other cities in New Jersey can thank Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver, D-Essex, for keeping their children trapped in failing schools for yet another year.

The Opportunity Scholarship Act would have created a corporate scholarship tax credit program for students from low-income families in failing school districts to attend public or private schools of their parents’ choice.

The bill had strong bipartisan support and more than enough votes to pass in both the Assembly and the Senate, which is why Oliver obstinately refused to post the bill for a vote.

Another legislative session ends. Another opportunity for urban kids to succeed dies.

What constituency are you protecting, Mrs. Oliver? The teachers’ unions? The entrenched educational bureaucracy? It certainly isn’t poor, minority children of this state desperately in need of access to a quality education.

And speaking of entrenched educational bureaucracy, a North Carolina resident voiced her concern in the Smithfield Herald about another setback in school choice legislation, which failed in the House Finance Committee by one vote:

Parental choice or administrative greed? Which one should take precedent when the education of our county’s children is at stake?

As the parent of school-aged children, I want as many options as possible to choose from for my children’s education. To oppose a virtual charter school in our county simply because it would take “our money” and send it elsewhere is a poor argument. If our students are leaving the Johnston County public schools, why should the county’s public school system keep the money that is allotted for them? If our county’s public schools are failing our children and they choose to leave, why should our public school system benefit financially?

I am one of those parents who have chosen other options over Johnston County public schools for my children. I believe that every parent should have that option, regardless of the monies our county’s school board will have to send away. If the Johnston County school board is convinced that our public county schools are the best educational option, perhaps they should not oppose competition. Neuse Charter School is already excelling beyond our public county schools. Maybe instead of opposing educational options, our county’s school board should encourage all options in order to motivate improvement in our public county schools.

But here at School Choice Now!, we’re not giving up the fight to provide real educational options for disadvantaged students in New Jersey and North Carolina. The fight continues!

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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