Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forget the haters, support charter schools

    Educational choice is one step closer to reality after the Mississippi Senate Education Committee approved a charter school bill today. Unfortunately, the committee removed provisions that would have allowed for "virtual" schools.
    Of course the statists are upset. They want a government monopoly on education, no matter how sorry the quality might be. Other, more enlightened statists, would allow charter schools only in "failing" school districts.
    My problem is trying to figure out exactly what is "failing." Is it failing to not meet a state's minimum standards? I think for a high-poverty district, coming anywhere close to average should be heralded as a great success. Likewise, affluent districts full of high-IQ students shouldn't be considered successful merely because they've met standards created for average kids.
    We keep hearing that allowing charter schools will "siphon" money away from public education. How? If a public school has 2,000 students and an average class size of 18, then that school will employ approximately 111 teachers. If some students choose to go elsewhere, revenue goes down, but so does expense. Some teachers will be let go, and will likely take up work at the charter school. It's a zero-sum game; public schools are neither helped nor harmed by students leaving or entering the system.
    I'm sorry to see the education committe removed the provision for virtual education. While I consider pure virtual education a poor substitute for classroom education, it could do wonders for students who are homeschooled or in low-quality private schools.
    In fact, one of the things I noted on social media sites was that many liberals were opposed to virtual classrooms specifically because it might help home- or private schooled kids get a better education. These liberals are so full of hatred towards home and private schooling that they would rather deny education to these children than fund a state program that would guarantee every citizen of Mississippi a decent education.
    Congratulations to the Senate education committee for approving the charter school law. Let's hope the full Senate or House has the courage to reinsert the provisions for virtual classrooms.
    Our goal, as a state, should be to educate every child, not to satisfy the liberal haters.

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