Apparently there is considerable internet “chatter” in response to a blog that I wrote for KPI last week. The piece was in response to a vote to close a KCMO charter school due to poor performance. The “chatter” is in regard to the line, “Ultimately, all publicly-funded schools need to be held to the same accountability standards. It is unacceptable that accountability is dependent upon what kind of school it is.”
At this time, the Kansas legislature is considering an ESA bill that would give money directly to parents to choose education alternatives for their children, including private school tuition. The education establishment is vehemently opposed to this and they using all kinds of spurious, fear-inducing arguments to make their case.
The argument here is that the “all publicly-funded schools” accountability should apply to private schools (tutors, therapists, and other educational expenses would also be eligible for ESA dollars) that accept tuition from families who have been granted an ESA. This is where they show the true colors of school choice fear. They are attempting to put ESAs in the same school choice box as a charter school. But there is no such thing as an “ESA school.” ESAs are much different, since the money flows directly to the individual child through a parent to decide how it is spent. In short, private school choice such as ESAs or tax credit scholarship programs fund students, not schools. Public charter schools receive taxpayer dollars directly from the state, as do traditional public schools.
It’s quite ironic that this argument against ESAs is rooted in regulation (accountability). The educrats feign concern that students might actually attend an unregulated school (including a home school) or get tutoring services from someone who is – daresay – not government approved!
The irony lies in the fact that the public education establishment is exempt from performance-based accountability. Just look at state assessment results – the same kind of scorecard that led to the closing the KCMO charter school. As stated in the previous blog, can you imagine a public hearing regarding the closure of a traditional public school due to low performance? Of course not. However, doesn’t stop them from decrying any school choice as somehow not being accountable.
It never ceases to amaze how “concerned” the anti-choice community is for those who might choose to leave the public school system, while simultaneously doing NOTHING to improve the performance of those confined to a zip code-based traditional public school. They believe in the doctrine of “rules for thee but not for me.”
Let me be perfectly clear, it is non-sensical that KPI would support any school choice option that would add state regulations to private schools, home school families, or other non-public school educators. We believe that parents should have control over how their children are educated, not bureaucrats`. As a point of fact, HB 2218, the ESA bill, contains this language: ““Nothing in this act shall be construed to permit any governmental agency to exercise control or supervision over any nonpublic school or home school. Any qualified school or tutor that accepts a payment from a parent of a qualified student participating in the program is not an agent of this state.” (emphasis added)
That’s good enough for me.