Logical Arguments are Lacking Among School Reform Opponents
Around the State
Those seeking to maintain the status quo in Florida's public schools seem to think they have come up with a winning argument against competition.
The argument is based on some obscure study that allegedly concluded charter schools are no better than public schools, on average.
This argument is absolutely absurd.
To begin with, that would also mean that public schools are no better than private schools on average. So why force children to go to schools that are no better?
But there is more.
Averages mean nothing in this debate.
There are good, bad and mediocre public schools. There are good, bad and mediocre private and charter schools.
Not even the most doltish liberal would argue (I think) that it would be wrong for a parent to take a child from a failing school where he is getting failing grades, and send him to an excellent school.
Arguably, the child would not be any worse off moving from a failing public school to a failing private school.
Yet, the liberal set is adamantly opposed to parents having a choice – unless of course the parent can afford to have a choice, in which case there is not a thing that liberals can do to stop them. For the moment, it is a free country.
But poor children don't have that choice without charter schools and voucher programs.
Politicians and teacher unions are protecting their turf, regardless of the effect on children.
Teacher union bosses are paid huge salaries to protect the public schools from competition, even though competition begets improvement.
Legitimate studies have found that Florida public schools are improving and that competition is one of the reasons.
The fact that improvement has occurred in recent years, during which the anti-reformers claim that public schools are losing money, is particularly embarrassing to them in that they see money as the solution to all education problems.
There was a brief blip during which the state funding dipped slightly, but federal and local funds made up the loss for many schools. For example, Jacksonville saw a 30 percent increase in spending from 2001 to 2011. Also, liberals have no evidence that more money improves public schools.
Illogical arguments, invalid complaints and obstinance are not going to carry the day.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a leader in education reform, said recently, “Education reform is working for all students, especially for those low-income children who had been neglected for decades because the education bureaucracy had the option of ignoring them. Accountability, transparency and competition have proven to be powerful motivators. Monopolies, failure factories and social promotion have proven to be disastrous for entire generations of our most vulnerable kids.”
Currently, The Blob is fighting tooth-and-nail to block online charter schools, a promising innovation – not because the public schools don't believe it is a good idea, but because they have their own programs and don't want any competition.
Parents who want better public schools will have to demand that the special interests give way and let better education happen.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.