The problems school choice programs faced in 2014 weren’t new.
Lawsuits, politicians whose actions don’t match their words and aggressive teachers unions have troubled school choice programs since the first one was launched in Milwaukee in 1990.
Since these problems show no signs of disappearing, they warrant attention no matter how familiar they seem.
Watchdog surveyed some of the country’s leading school choice experts, and these are their picks for the five worst school choice moments of 2014.
- In Florida, the teachers union is suing to stop the state’s tax-credit scholarship program, the largest school choice program in the country.
The scholarships help more than 100,000 students from low-income families attend the private school of their choice.
“It’s a low moment I think for teachers unions,” said Lindsey Burke, a Will Skillman Fellow in education at the Heritage Foundation.
“That’s pretty bad, and Grinch-like, of the opponents of school choice,” said Richard Komer, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice. “If you’re going to kill it, kill it early, before 100,000 kids are in (choice) schools.”
The lawsuit was also President of School Choice Wisconsin Jim Bender’s choice for this year’s grimmest moment.
“Just the fact that it throws that much potential disruption into the lives of tens of thousands of families has to mark a very low point,” Bender said.
- For C.J. Szafir, education policy director of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, the worst moment of the year was part of a familiar pattern.
“Policymakers talk so frequently about penalizing poor performing schools in the choice program, yet they do not do enough to reward the high-quality ones,” Szafir said.
“This year, St. Marcus, a high-performing school in Milwaukee, tried to buy multiple different empty Milwaukee Public School buildings, which are owned by the city of Milwaukee. In two highly publicized examples, the city and MPS refused to sell these buildings, solely because of St. Marcus being a school in the choice program. These MPS buildings — Malcolm X and Lee — remain empty to this day.”
- The failure of politicians to live up to their pro-school choice rhetoric also provided one of year’s worst moments for Jason Bedrick of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.
“A big disappointment this past year was New York’s failure to pass a school choice law,” Bedrick said.
“The state Senate passed a scholarship tax credit and there seemed to be sufficient support in the lower chamber, but it was left out of the final budget, despite Governor Cuomo’s promise to Cardinal Dolan. During his re-election campaign, Cuomo promised several groups that it would happen this year.”
Read more at Watchdog.org.
By Watchdog Staff | From Watchdog.org
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