The Rich Have School Choice, Why Shouldn’t Everyone?

 

It’s back-to-school week in California, but one celebrity’s kids are heading to a new school this fall.

Cindy Crawford pulled her two children out of their high school ahead of the back-to-school sweep, citing concerns over their health and safety at the Malibu, Calif., institution.

The supermodel, 48, and husband Rande Gerber have taken Presley, 15, and Kaia, 13, out of Malibu High School after testing showed elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in several classrooms.

Routine soil tests apparently found elevated levels of the chemicals, commonly known as PCBs, in window caulking in the rooms. PCBs were banned by Congress in 1976 after it was revealed they could cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

“I look 10 years down the line. What if my kid, God forbid, had a problem?” Crawford told Maria Shriver on the “Today” show Tuesday.

The dangerous chemicals have been found at two Malibu-area schools and Crawford doesn’t want to take any chances.

Maybe the highly successful model is overreacting to such a small health risk. I can’t imagine switching schools over a bit of old window caulking. But I’m happy that Crawford and other wealthy parents can make the choice they believe is best for their kids.

When it comes to schools, like everything else, the rich have choice. Always have, always will.

A celebrity can send their kid to public, private, charter, parochial, boarding or even military school. This gives them the maximum array of options to find the perfect environment for their child’s learning style, social environment and aspirations.

But not every child is that lucky. Most American kids attend whatever school is located in their neighborhood. The average public school employs a one-size-fits-all approach to best teach the largest amount of students. But every child is unique with his own strengths, weaknesses and learning style.

Any parent knows how different kids can be in the same family, let alone across a neighborhood, city or state. So why not give poor and middle-class parents the same school choice that Cindy Crawford enjoys?

Barack Obama sent his daughters to the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., as did Hillary Clinton. But both oppose common-sense school choice programs that would help the poor children in the same city.

Contrary to the spin offered by education reform opponents, innovative programs like vouchers and scholarships were not created to assist wealthy moms like Cindy Crawford. The main beneficiary are the poor children unable to go to a private school in Malibu.

There are 24 comments.

  1. Totus Porcus Inactive

    As you’ve noted, “the children” are useful as props during elections or when voting on school bonds or budgets, which are promoted by public employee teachers’ unions, who donate to Democrats. Whether children actually benefit is ancillary. Indeed, if they did too well it becomes harder to shill for “more resources,” just as the possibility of competition presented by vouchers or scholarships threaten to divert those resources. The few places competition has been allowed to develop have not gone well for the public school monopolists.

    • #1
    • August 29, 2014, at 3:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Probable Cause Inactive

    Some years ago, vouchers were on a statewide ballot in Utah. The Teacher’s Union dumped a gazillion dollars into the state in order to crush the initiative. They succeeded.

    The way to counter is to form a lean, national organization (or for an existing organization to take on the task), that puts the question on the ballot of every state that allows citizen’s initiative & referendum, every year. They don’t even have to spend money on advertising. Just collect the signatures and force the Teacher’s Union to defend against the threat, everywhere, all the time. Eventually, they’ll run out of resources.

    Insurgencies can defeat a well funded, entrenched foe.

    • #2
    • August 29, 2014, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Seawriter Member

    Everyone has school choice. You can homeschool. It may mean driving around in 15-year-old automobiles, staycations, and doing without plasma screens or the latest-greatest sneakers, but it can be done.

    Quilter and I did it with our three. We did it because we were dissatisfied with the quality of education provided by the public schools, and because we were unsure whether private schools would offer an education that was much better. We have never regretted it. Two of our sons are now engineers and one is a senior working on an engineering degree.

    Seawriter

    • #3
    • August 29, 2014, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Freesmith Inactive

    The poor can choose their schools today: they can move to a different area, or come together with like-minded parents in their communities to form their own home-schooling projects. If those basic, fundamental actions are too much for them, the poor can petition the local school boards, attend meetings, disrupt those meetings, march in the streets, riot, and burn the Board of Education building to the ground. 

    But “the poor” won’t do any of those things. “The poor” will vote Democratic 10 to 1 and then wait for Jon Gabriel to feel guilty enough to give them more money – sorry, to give them vouchers.

    • #4
    • August 30, 2014, at 4:58 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Probable Cause Inactive

    Vouchers don’t give anyone “more” money. It shifts control of the existing money away from the edu-bureaucrats to the parents. When a school district is already spending $15,000 to supposedly educate a kid every year, and they instead give his parents $7500 to take their business elsewhere, that’s a $7500 savings to the district.

    • #5
    • August 30, 2014, at 8:29 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Freesmith Inactive

    Yes, my friend, that’s how vouchers are supposed to work, as promoted by those who have proposed them as a conservative solution. Their intentions are good, no doubt. 

    You and I both know this type of conservative: the type that speaks facilely about “existing money” and who believes that the same parent(s?) who tolerate the current school system will spend their 50% of “existing money” wisely. Money, I must point out, that they didn’t earn.

    And what, pray tell, will the current school system spend their freed-up $7,500 on? I suggest they’ll spend it lobbying the political class and the voters to restore the draconian cuts to education they’ve had to endure.

    And in the spirit of compromise with a determined, implacable foe, the guilt-ridden, facile voucher conservative will agree to an extra $3,750.

    What you hear in the background is the sound of the ratchet of endless big government and unsustainable debt, powered by good intentions.

    • #6
    • August 30, 2014, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Mister D Member

    The rich also have home choice, car choice, vacation choice and far more choice in pretty much everything because, well, they’re rich. I don’t know that this is a line of argument we want to pursue.

    • #7
    • August 30, 2014, at 4:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Probable Cause Inactive

    Freesmith, do the various voucher programs that are already in existence around the country exemplify your predictions?

    • #8
    • August 30, 2014, at 5:46 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Freesmith Inactive

    Probable Cause, the oldest voucher program is in Milwaukee. It’s results have not been impressive educationally.

    School funding did decline after the recession, but it’s rising again in all areas including for the “choice schools.” There is pressure to raise the income caps and the voucher amounts. Governor Walker wants special needs students to receive vouchers. (Can’t let “the poor” be the sole beneficiaries of all that “existing money.” There are so many deserving groups out there.) School reformers are pushing for greater monitoring – accreditation – of the independent and church schools receiving voucher funds.

    The Democrats and teachers’ unions are howling about lack of funds, retirements and teacher-pupil ratios. They are pouring everything they’ve got into a second attempt to defeat Governor Walker, who trails in the latest polls. 

    Paradoxically (snicker), all of this increased governmental involvement in the schools is happening when Republicans control the statehouse and the governor’s mansion. I would expect that when the Democrats regain power they will turn the ratchet even faster…don’t you agree?

    • #9
    • August 30, 2014, at 7:28 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. Probable Cause Inactive

    Freesmith:

    Probable Cause, the oldest voucher program is in Milwaukee. It’s results have not been impressive educationally.

    That’s startling. Can you provide some evidence?

    As for the rest, it sounds like you’re close to the situation, so I’ll take you at your word. I will point out, the howls for more education funding can be heard in every school district, in every state, all the time. (Remember a few years ago? Bumper stickers in half the states declared they were “49th in funding.”) And you must admit, there’s more going on in Wisconsin than just the voucher program. Every public employee is sticking pins in his own little Walker voodoo doll for reasons that have nothing to do with the Milwaukee voucher program.

    As for control following the money, that’s always a risk; I agree that’s a weakness of voucher programs. However, I wouldn’t think private schools could be forced to participate.

    By the way, I can’t get a handle on where you’re coming from. Are you part of the education establishment, or conversely do you want to eliminate public education funding entirely?

    What is your alternative proposal?

    • #10
    • August 30, 2014, at 8:56 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Seawriter: Everyone has school choice. You can homeschool…

    … for now.

    • #11
    • August 31, 2014, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Mister D:

    The rich also have home choice, car choice, vacation choice and far more choice in pretty much everything because, well, they’re rich. I don’t know that this is a line of argument we want to pursue.

    The poor also has choice in these areas. It’s simply that their options are more limited by cost, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have options … as long as governments stay out of it.

    The poor have home choice, unless they live in government-operated housing projects, or when government zoning regulations hamper the construction of low-income housing.

    The poor have car choice, except where governments mandate design features which boost the cost of cars.

    The poor have vacation choice, except when governments impose artificial costs on “public” vacation venues.

    Just because the rich have more options, it does not mean that the poor have no options.

    As for education, the poor have little-to-no choice, because compulsory education and union opposition to vouchers allow them only one choice.

    • #12
    • August 31, 2014, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Mister D Member

    Misthiocracy:

    Mister D:

    The rich also have home choice, car choice, vacation choice and far more choice in pretty much everything because, well, they’re rich. I don’t know that this is a line of argument we want to pursue.

    The poor also has choice in these areas. It’s simply that their options are more limited by cost, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have options … as long as governments stay out of it.

    As for education, the poor have little-to-no choice, because compulsory education and union opposition to vouchers allow them only one choice.

    That’s my point. They have choice if they can afford it, and less choice because they can afford less. Even with vouchers there will be less choice for the poor – there will always be prestigious schools they can’t afford to get in. My point is that it is a poor argument, and one that opens the door to other arguments, to say that the government must give the poor access to the same choices the rich have. I think there are plenty of other arguments in favor of school choice than to rely on class warfare rhetoric.

    • #13
    • August 31, 2014, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Mister D:

    That’s my point. They have choice if they can afford it, and less choice because they can afford less. Even with vouchers there will be less choice for the poor – there will always be prestigious schools they can’t afford to get in. My point is that it is a poor argument, and one that opens the door to other arguments, to say that the government must give the poor access to the same choices the rich have. I think there are plenty of other arguments in favor of school choice than to rely on class warfare rhetoric.

    Less choice is not the same as no choice.

    The current education paradigm allow for (virtually) no choice.

    As such, (virtually) any increase in the amount of choice would be a positive development. It does not matter that the increased amount of choice would not be equal to the amount of choice enjoyed by the rich.

    The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

    • #14
    • August 31, 2014, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Seawriter Member

    Misthiocracy

    Seawriter: Everyone has school choice. You can homeschool…

    … for now.

     We have fought that particular battle in the United States. The scorecard overwhelmingly favors homeschoolers. The victories are unlikely to get rolled back – either on a federal or state level – because homeschoolers are more politically active than gun owners. Opposing homeschoolers or limiting homeschooling rights is a good way for a legislator to end up an ex-legislator. Pretty much a sure way.

    Seawriter

    • #15
    • August 31, 2014, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Man With the Axe Member

    Imagine we were creating our educational “system” from scratch, with no existing vested interests, no teachers’ unions, no school boards. Assume that we know that if we have a tax-payer funded public system of government-run schools it will turn out the way it has turned out in our current reality. 

    Assume we also have the option of allowing a free market in educational institutions to flourish, with every child provided a voucher to cover the cost of education at any school that will take him, with a proviso that schools which accept vouchers must accept them as complete payment. This system would have voluntary accreditation, not mandatory. Each school would be a separate bargaining unit, with some unionized and some not. 

    Now, which system do you prefer?

    • #16
    • August 31, 2014, at 10:09 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Duwzzrd Inactive

    The rules are very different for rich people, than they are for poor people.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/386656/teachers-hate-poor-kids-kevin-d-williamson

    • #17
    • September 1, 2014, at 10:45 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Freesmith: But “the poor” won’t do any of those things. “The poor” will vote Democratic 10 to 1 and then wait for Jon Gabriel to feel guilty enough to give them more money – sorry, to give them vouchers.

    Actually, when given a choice ,such as in Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and many other states, the poor DO choose charter schools, homeschooling, vouchers, scholarships and the like. This is why the programs are such a great success.

    I’m unclear why you think I feel guilty since I have done nothing wrong. No one is “giving” people extra money, just allowing the existing money to follow the student rather than the teacher’s unions.

    • #18
    • September 1, 2014, at 1:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Freesmith Inactive

    Another conservative accepting the “existing money” premise.

    Where did that “existing money” come from, Jon Gabriel, the money that you are so free to offer to redistribute? It’s the taxpayers’ isn’t it? It doesn’t belong to the student, the parents, the school board or the legislature. If the schools can’t educate their pupils, the conservative position is to return the money to the taxpayers. That would catalyze change.

    And as I mentioned previously in this thread the voucher option tends to increase, not decrease, the amount of money available to the teachers’ unions for lobbying and electioneering. How that is expected to help education, the budget, the GOP or conservatism is beyond me.

    The most sensible position a conservative can take regarding education reform is benign neglect. It was true in 1969 and the past 45 years should have only reinforced that conviction. 

    Unless you are seeking office, that is. But I’m not.

    • #19
    • September 1, 2014, at 5:47 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. Freesmith Inactive

    Maybe not even for people seeking office. Milwaukee has the nation’s oldest school voucher program.

    From UrbanMilwaukee.com:

    “Obama’s victory margin in Milwaukee grew by 15,070 votes in 2012 compared with 2008, boosted by a turnout that saw 87% of the city’s registered voters casting a presidential ballot. His winning margin in the city was a stunning 170,831 votes.

    “But in the rest of Wisconsin, Obama fell sharply from 2008. His overall margin of victory in the balance of Wisconsin—the state minus the city of Milwaukee—dropped from 256,532 to a mere 34,374.

    “In other words, in 2008 Milwaukee joined with the rest of the state in a strong win for Obama. But in 2012 it was Milwaukee’s vote that provided almost the entire winning margin for Obama in Wisconsin.”

    How’s that school choice working out for Republicans?

    • #20
    • September 1, 2014, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Man With the Axe Member

    Freesmith: If the schools can’t educate their pupils, the conservative position is to return the money to the taxpayers.

    That is “a” conservative position, but it isn’t the only one. 

    It is also conservative to spend public resources for those public goods for which private sources are inadequate, i.e., such as national defense. 

    There are millions of school-age children who must be educated for society’s good as well as their own, whose parents cannot afford the price of that education. Taxpayer funds must be used for that purpose or society will suffer greatly. The question left is how to spend those funds efficiently. If there is a more efficient alternative than vouchers I haven’t heard of it. 

    Neglect of reform leaves the extremely unpleasant status quo, with poor student outcomes and powerful teachers unions turning those students into junior progressives. Why that is a sensible position for a conservative is beyond me. 

    • #21
    • September 1, 2014, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Barkha Herman Member

    When I speak to communities about school choice, this is exactly the point I make.

    In Broward County, where I live, there are a few programs offered by the public school systems that are not as bad as the rest of the schools. However, these programs are dominated by Asian kids, with a sprinkling of white and Hispanic kids. My son’s IB class had one African American kid.

    The issue is that the parents of the kids who need it most are completely unaware of the issues.

    If we must have an entitlement for kids education, then, like the much touted education system in Sweden, the money should follow the child. The choice of education must be with the parents.

    • #22
    • September 2, 2014, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Freesmith: Another conservative accepting the “existing money” premise. Where did that “existing money” come from, Jon Gabriel, the money that you are so free to offer to redistribute? It’s the taxpayers’ isn’t it? It doesn’t belong to the student, the parents, the school board or the legislature. If the schools can’t educate their pupils, the conservative position is to return the money to the taxpayers. That would catalyze change.

    You seem to be offering a Randian libertarian position, rather than the conservative one. The money is currently in the system, and I advocate letting it follow the student rather than the districts. This puts parents in the drivers’ seats rather than bureaucrats, which will help schools of all types compete, change with the times, innovate and produce a better education for children.

    I don’t see how defunding inner city school districts facilitates change since kids are stuck with those broken institutions and can’t visit the non-existent charter down the street.

    • #23
    • September 2, 2014, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Barkha Herman: If we must have an entitlement for kids education, then, like the much touted education system in Sweden, the money should follow the child. The choice of education must be with the parents.

     Amen.

    • #24
    • September 2, 2014, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • Like